AAP Tennis

Serena’s shot at Court’s record stalls

By AAP Newswire

First it was Roger Federer feeling the devastation of Wimbledon's cancellation and now tennis greats fear the effects the coronavirus pandemic may have on Serena Williams' place in history.

Like Federer, Williams will be closing in on her 40th birthday if and when Wimbledon is next held in June, 2021.

But while Federer already holds the record for most men's grand slam crowns with 20, Williams continues obsessively to pursue Margaret Court's all-time women's mark of 24 singles majors.

The American has been stranded on 23 since claiming her last slam while three months pregnant with victory over older sister Venus in the 2017 Australian Open final.

Straight-set defeats in the past two Wimbledon finals and past two US Open deciders had already cast doubts on Williams' ability and nerve to win the big ones in the twilight of her glorious career.

Now, with the clock ticking, the sport's coronavirus-enforced hiatis is eating away at the 38-year-old's remaining time and opportunities.

And that's a concern according to former Australian Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald, who described the first cancellation of Wimbledon since World War II as a huge blow to the seven-times champion.

"In recent times, she's struggled to win on that final day at a grand slam," Fitzgerald said on a special edition of AO Show podcast.

"So if she doesn't get the opportunity in the next few months to play another couple of grand slams, then her chance of catching Margaret Court in terms of pure numbers, it may disappear into the ether.

"We don't know. It remains to be seen - can her body hold up at her age?

"And I'm not being disrespectful here. It's an ageing, athletic body."

Williams tweeted that she was "shooked" - presumably shocked and shaken - by last week's cancellation of the grasscourt major.

Fitzgerald totally understands.

"She's one of the greatest players we've ever seen and she has the record in the modern era to certainly make claims of being the greatest player ever," he said.

"(But) will she be able to catch Margaret Court's record in numbers?

"That's a question for her and she'll be suffering in some ways, I think along with Roger Federer, in terms of thinking about her final record."