Tennis great Serena Williams is on her way to breaking her own record of 23 Grand Slam titles with a shot at 24 in the U.S. Open on Aug. 31. So fittingly fans of the sport are calling Williams the GOAT of women’s tennis.
The goat nickname and status were given to Earl Manigault who was an American street basketball player, called The Goat as the acronym for Greatest Of All Time.
Third-seeded Williams, who pulled out a 7-6(6), 3-6, 7-6(0) victory over Dutch player Arantxa Rus yesterday in her first match at the Western & Southern Open, is in New York for the warm-up tournament and the U.S. Open beginning Aug. 31. She is staying in a private home on Long Island as opposed to the tournament hotels, in part because of her lung issues and concerns about Covid.
Serena Williams turns 39 next month, is 0-4 in her last four Grand Slam finals since becoming a mother, including back-to-back losses in the U.S. Open finals to Naomi Osaka in 2018 and Canadian Bianca Andreescu in 2019.
Williams was taken to the brink before prevailing 7-6 (8-6) 3-6 7-6 (7-0) against Arantxa Rus after two hours, 49 minutes.
A 23-time grand slam champion, Williams served 14 aces – including four in the final set – but was pushed by Rus.
Williams served for the match at 5-3 before losing three straight games, Rus also unable to serve it out before the American advanced.
Awaiting Williams, a two-time winner of the event, in the last 16 is Maria Sakkari after the Greek 13th seed beat Yulia Putintseva 6-4 7-6 (11-9).
Still, even if Serena Williams gets to No. 24, tennis legend Martina Navratilova says there’s room for discussion about GOAT status, pointing out that in her era there wasn’t quite the emphasis on majors.
Still, in a recent poll, Tennis Channel ranked Serena Williams as the No. 1 women’s player of all time, followed by Navratilova at No. 2, Graf, Evert and Billie Jean King.