23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, who is widely considered the goat of women’s tennis, says she is still struggling to break Margaret Court’s record of 24.
“I was supposed to be 30 or 32 (Grand Slam title in singles),” Williams Christian Amanpour told CNN.
“I had to have it (record), in fact, I had a lot of opportunities to get it. But I do not give up. “
Williams was forced to miss the January Australian Open following the advice of her medical team, announcing in December that she was not “where I need to be physically to compete”.
Speaking to Amanpour in Paris, Williams said she would play in the French Open in May – the next Grand Slam tournament on the tennis calendar – if her body allowed it.
“Paris is one of my favorite cities, and I really love clay. So let’s see what happens. Hopefully, if my body survives, I’ll definitely be there.”
Williams’ rise from a young girl who learned to play tennis on dilapidated courts in Compton, California, to one of the most successful and award-winning athletes in history is a legend.
Now immortalized in the Hollywood film “King Richard,” produced by Williams and her sister Venus, their father was key in the duo’s development as actors.
The film, played by Will Smith, shows how Richard Williams catapulted his daughters to the glory of tennis.
Williams, who is often portrayed as a detached and eccentric character, told CNN how the sisters are trying to change the story of their dad.
“Unfortunately, entering a new sport where it’s predominant, you know, White and my dad like this villain, if that wasn’t true, I had to deal with it my whole career, from day one to day in the end, it was very important for us to just tell the truth, ”she said.
“You know, in order to be an athlete, especially in a particular sport, you need to work hard and give a lot. And I look at my daughter and say, “Wow, I don’t think I could do what my dad did every day.” That’s a lot of work. “
Serena’s older sister Venus paved the way, becoming a professional a year earlier than she did, winning seven Grand Slam titles in her singles career. Venus is still participating in the tour, she is 41 years old.
At first Serena lived in the shadow of Venus.
“My sister was much better than me. I didn’t grow very well. And so everyone was focused on Venus. And the film is about how, when we had the opportunity to have better coaches, they saw that Venus was that.
“And so it was devastating for me … but useful. Because if it hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have had the kind of career that I have, because I felt I just had to prove it and just have to was to win. “
Williams turned to her mother, Oracena Price, who played an important but often overlooked role in her success.
“I just needed to work with my mom. I didn’t have time to work with prestigious coaches or anything. And my mom made me mentally tough,” she added.
Serena, Venus and their dad have faced racism throughout their careers, especially in 2001 in Indian Wells.
Asked by Amanpur how they perceived and overcame the racism they felt as tennis players in a predominantly white sport, Williams replied: “We changed him from two great black champions to the best of all time. And that’s what we did. We took out the color and we just got better.
“And yes, we had to play harder and we had to be the best, but it made us the best.
“And in the end, every time we faced a problem and every time we overcame that challenge, we created Venus and Serena.”
Williams also discussed his venture fund Serena Ventures, which this week announced that $ 111 million had been raised to invest in founders of various backgrounds.
“It’s really diverse,” Williams Amanpour said, explaining that she was prompted to take action when she learned that less than 2% of all venture capital money goes to women.
“Because of tennis, I have a way to influence the VC differently and add variety to it,” she said.
At times, Williams showed anger and annoyance with the judges on the court, most infamously known in the 2018 US Open final, in which she lost to Naomi Osaka.
She was heavily criticized and fined for this episode.
Amanpur asked Williams if she experienced double standards in the sport, given that men usually appear before judges, often with impunity.
Responding to a recent incident involving German player Alexander Zverev, in which he repeatedly hit a racket on a judge’s chair and was then removed from the Mexican Open and fined, Williams said: “There are absolutely double standards. I probably would. in jail when I did it. Like literally, no kidding. “
And while she is chasing the Court record in Grand Slam tournaments, Williams is also aware that her career and life will be determined not only by how many titles she can win.
“I am who I am, I love who I am – I like the impact I have had on people, which I continue to have on people,” said Williams, who was interviewed by Omanpur on February 28, four months later. days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Now there is such a commotion in the world … if you look at what is happening in Ukraine and Russia, it’s just sad to see,” Williams added.
“Human life … is so precious, and it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, it has to be amazing and precious.”