Iga Swiatek could reach double figures for grand slam titles but Wimbledon may be a stumbling block, according to Marion Bartoli.

Speaking to Stats Perform, Bartoli said she did not expect any player on the WTA Tour to match the "greatness" of Serena or Venus Williams.

The Frenchwoman, who won the 2013 Wimbledon women's singles title, also claimed the level of competition is currently not as strong as it was for the previous generation.

She is sold on Swiatek, though, who added to her 2020 and 2022 French Open titles by winning the US Open earlier in September.

The 21-year-old Polish player has emerged as the clear world number one since Ash Barty retired in March, stringing together 37 consecutive wins at one point until Alize Cornet beat her in round three at Wimbledon.

A lull in her performances followed that exit on the grass, but Swiatek fought her way through the field to triumph in New York.

"I was very impressed by how Iga this time with the US Open came with absolutely zero confidence and still found a way to win, and that is really a champion's mind," Bartoli said.

""She played really not great tennis in Toronto, not good tennis in Cincinnati, didn't play that well before the US Open. Whatever she worked on with her coach, she went on and plugged in for seven matches and to win the title, which is very impressive.

"So I think the level it's not at the highest, but I think the way she has been able to handle the pressure and go for it and win was absolutely very, very impressive.

"And she will win more. For sure she will win more on clay, she will win more on normal, slower hardcourts. Maybe not grass, but slow hard court is really a good surface for her as well. So easily between five and 10 for Iga, easily."

With Serena Williams saying a fond farewell to competitive tennis at the US Open, the women's tour has lost a 23-slam giant. In Bartoli's mind, there may be nobody of the great American's prowess to emerge for many years to come.

She said: "I think it's unfair to ask any of the current women's players to be as dominating as Serena was, or you know Venus as well.

"You just can't ask them to be at that level of greatness. You get that one out of a century or even two centuries. So I think we will have to wait a while before we get the next Serena Williams.

"And even Coco [Gauff] has talked about it, [saying] 'I'm not Serena, I will probably not get 23 grand slams like Serena you know, so stop putting pressure on me'.

"I think they're just trying their hardest, they're just trying their best, but obviously as Maria Sharapova said and I agree with her, the level of competition we used to have when all of us were playing was I think higher than what it is now."

Bartoli pointed to the example of Emma Raducanu, as a near-unknown, winning the US Open last year. She said that triumph for the British teenager was "out of any rational thoughts".

"This year she lost first round [to Cornet] and she dropped to 80 in the world," Bartoli added.

"You know that someone at 80 and someone at five, there is not so much of a difference in terms of level. And that's why you see those sort of upsets and constant change."

Novak Djokovic does not regret missing out on the US Open due to his vaccination stance and is waiting to discover if he will be allowed to compete in the 2022 Australian Open.

The 21-time grand slam winner missed two of this year's four majors owing to his decision to not be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Though Djokovic was able to extend his record at Wimbledon, he lost joint control of the outright Open Era title for most men's single majors to Rafael Nadal, after the latter won in Australia and then at the French Open.

Carlos Alcaraz, meanwhile, won a maiden grand slam to become the new world number one with victory at Flushing Meadows earlier this month.

Djokovic was barred from entering the USA on vaccination grounds, but speaking ahead of this week's Laver Cup, the Serbian says he does not rue his choice.

"No, I don't have any regrets," he said. "I mean, I do feel sad that I wasn't able to play but that was a decision that I made, and I knew what the consequences would be. I accepted them and that's it."

Djokovic was quick to hail teenager Alcaraz, congratulating the Spaniard for his victory, and adding: "He did it in an incredible fashion. He's 19 years old and already the number one in the world.

"I think he's a great addition to our sport, a great star in the making. We can't speak about him as the future because he is already the present."

Djokovic's 2022 started in less than auspicious circumstances when, having been granted an exception to compete in Australia despite the nation's strict COVID-19 protocols, he was subsequently deported.

Questions over whether he would even be allowed back in the country remain up in the air, but the Serbian is hopeful of a reprieve.

"I'm waiting for the news," he added. "It's really not in my hands right now. So I'm hoping I can get some positive news soon."

Roger Federer will remain forever "linked" with Wimbledon following the 20-time grand slam winner's retirement announcement, says Marion Bartoli.

The Swiss veteran confirmed this month's Laver Cup will be his final top-tier tennis tournament on the ATP Tour, calling time one of the greatest careers in any sport.

But while fellow big-three stars Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal remain unparalleled at the Australian Open and French Open respectively, it is Federer who has made Wimbledon his defining legacy.

With eight men's singles triumphs, the 41-year-old is closely associated with the event, and was welcomed back with a riotous reception earlier this year for a parade celebrating the centenary of Centre Court.

Bartoli, the 2013 women's singles champion, was also at that event and she says Federer's legacy in London will remain for decades to come, even as Djokovic creeps closer to levelling it.

"I was lucky enough to have this very special moment," she told Stats Perform. "He was the last one to walk on the court because he won eight times there and the reception from the crowd, it was just absolutely manic.

"The whole [of] Centre Court just exploded. He [is] just so loved there. That 2019 final, where he lost to Novak having had two match points. I don't think one person outside of Novak's family [wanted him to lose].

"Roger and Wimbledon – [the] two are just linked together. It's just his body. The problem is when you just can't do it any more physically. He played more than 1,500 matches over 20-plus years. You can't do this forever.

"There is a certain time when your body has its limits, and [this] was it for Roger. But I think no one can blame him for not trying every single time 100 per cent when he was stepping on the court."

Roger Federer's retirement from tennis marks the end of an era, as one of the sport's finest bows out next week at the Laver Cup.

A 20-time grand slam champion and six-time ATP Tour Finals victor – the latter still an undefeated record in the Open Era – the Swiss star has been one of the leading lights in the men's game.

Coming on the heels of Serena Williams' apparent finish at the summit of the sport at this month's US Open, it represents the latest major changing of the guard near the summit of tennis' upper echelons.

Throughout his career, the 41-year-old has stood either alone or alongside a rarefied group in the record group, and Stats Perform has rounded up some of his most impressive statistics.

750 - Federer has spent 750 weeks in the top 10 of the men's singles rankings, an undefeated number for a male player since they were first published in 1973.

369 - He has won more men's singles main draw matches in grand slam tournaments than any other player in the Open Era (369).

237 - With 237 consecutive weeks at number one, Federer holds the record for the longest such streak in men's singles history – a stretch of four-and-a-half years.

105 - Federer has played 105 matches at Wimbledon in the Open Era, more than any other male player.

 

103 - The number of ATP-level titles won by Federer in the Open Era is 103, a feat bettered only by Jimmy Connors (109).

36 - At the age of 36 years, five months and seven days, Federer won his last grand slam, at the 2018 Australian Open, becoming the oldest man to do so in the Open Era save for Ken Rosewall in 1972 (37 years, a month and 24 days, also in Melbourne).

224 - Federer has recorded 224 victories against top-10 opponents. Only Novak Djokovic (232) has more such wins in the Open Era.

15 - In his home tournament in Basel, Federer reached 15 finals, the highest tally for a player in a single ATP-level tournament since the majors turned professional in 1968.

1 - With 429 grand slam matches to his name in the Open Era, Federer is the only male player to have exceeded the 400+ mark.

10 - Federer is the only male player able to reach 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals in the Open Era (between Wimbledon 2005 and the US Open 2007).

0 - According to ATP Media info, Federer never retired from a match in his career (1,526 matches in singles, 223 in doubles).

Roger Federer has announced his retirement from tennis, declaring next week's Laver Cup in London will be his farewell tournament.

The Swiss great, who has won 20 grand slams, becomes the first of the 'Big Three' on the men's tour to call it a day, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic still active.

Federer said he was making a "bittersweet decision", having battled knee injuries in the hope of returning to the tour.

Now 41 years old, Federer wrote in a statement on social media on Thursday: "As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries.

"I've worked hard to return to full competitive form. But I also know my body's capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear.

"I have played more than 1,500 matches over 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognise when it is time to end my competitive career.

"The Laver Cup next week in London will be my final ATP event. I will play more tennis in the future, of course, but just not in grand slams or on the tour."

The Swiss great, who won eight men's singles Wimbledon titles, said he would "miss everything the tour has given me".

He returned to Wimbledon this year for a parade of champions, and said at the time he hoped to play there again, but in a competitive sense that will not happen.

Federer said there was "so much to celebrate", adding: "I consider myself one of the most fortunate people on Earth. I was given a special talent to play tennis, and I did it at a level that I never imagined, for much longer than I ever thought possible."

A player whose skills could take the breath away, Federer might trail Nadal by two and Djokovic by one on the all-time list of men's grand slam winners, but to many he will be remembered as the greatest of the trio.

Federer was a virtuoso with racket in hand, going past the previous record of men's grand slam singles wins held by Pete Sampras when landing his 15th major after an epic victory over Andy Roddick in the 2009 Wimbledon final.

He thanked his family and his support team in his announcement on Thursday, and hailed the fans who have always had his back.

Last year, Federer won the ATP's Fans' Favourite award for a 19th successive season.

He said: "You will never know how much strength and belief you have given me. The inspiring feeling of walking into full stadiums and arenas has been one of the huge thrills in my life. Without you, those successes would have felt lonely, rather than filled with joy and energy."

Federer has a financial stake in the Laver Cup, and earmarked it earlier this year as one of two comeback events, along with his home Swiss Indoors event in Basel next month.

However, now the hopes of playing that Basel event look to have been dashed.

 

His retirement decision comes in the wake of Serena Williams announcing last month she would be "evolving away from tennis".

Although she has tenuously left the door open for a change of heart, Williams' announcement was also effectively one of retirement too, and she was given a rousing send-off at the US Open.

Federer, whose career ran in close tandem with that of Williams, described his own career as "an incredible adventure".

"While it sometimes feels like it went by in 24 hours, it has also been so deep and so magical that it seems as if I've already lived a full lifetime," he added.

"I have had the immense fortune to play in front of you in over 40 different countries. I have laughed and cried, felt joy and pain, and most of all I have felt incredibly alive."

He recalled being "a ball kid" in Basel in his youth, and seeing players of a past generation at close quarters.

"They were like giants to me and I began to dream," Federer wrote. "My dreams led me to work harder and I started to believe in myself."

Federer had a reputation early in his career as a racket-smasher, and it was not clear that he had the temperament to maximise his talent.

That soon emerged, though, and Federer explained: "Some success brought me confidence and I was on my way to the most amazing journey that led to this day.

"So, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart, to everyone around the world who has helped make the dream of a young Swiss ball kid come true."

He added: "Finally, to the game of tennis, I love you and will never leave you."

With a security detail to rival that of a president, Roger Federer strode along St Mary's Walk and into Court 14, crowds on the concourses urged to clear a path for a man rarely seen in such parts of the All England Club.

This was the king among his people, out in the boondocks by his standards. With a mighty swish of his racket, he might just be able to launch a tennis ball onto Centre Court's roof from down here.

It was day two of the 2015 Wimbledon championships, a warm Tuesday morning, and Federer needed a warm-up before his opening match against Bosnian Damir Dzumhur, a player that later in the day he would trounce for the loss of just seven games. That would of course be a Centre Court assignment. Invariably all of Federer's matches get centre stage.

The tiny Court 14 seats a couple of hundred spectators, maybe a handful more at a push, and whispers had spread to mean many were occupied for what was an unadvertised practice session, a Federer guerrilla gig. The media had been given a little advance notice, and a glimpse of Federer at close quarters is hard to turn down.

There was a hefty hint Federer would be arriving when Stefan Edberg - his coach and childhood idol - showed up several minutes ahead of his charge and began to limber up, while Rob Walker of Wimbledon TV stood patiently with a camera crew and a stack of notes, ready to tell the story of the day Federer played where only mere mortals usually tread.

Suddenly more news crews appeared, a stream of day-trippers strolling past the inconspicuous court became more like a scrum, and out came the camera phones, ball boys and ball girls craning for a view, making sure of a close-up shot. A woman working for IBM grinned ear to ear. And in walked Federer, dressed head to toe in white Nike gear, carrying a couple of Wilson tennis rackets and a cap bearing his RF insignia.

A G4S security man practically bit off his bottom lip while attempting to keep a straight face and simultaneously enforce crowd control as Federer passed by him. Thou shalt not smile.

Applause rang out, fans with cheap-rate ground passes cooed at the sight of the then seven-time champion. Federer acknowledged the swelling crowd.

And for the next half-hour or so he and Edberg gently put in a light session, rallying from the baseline, these great champions going through the motions that on another day might have taken place out of public sight. It amounted to little more than a balm to the ego before lunch.

And this was just another day in the life of Roger Federer, who has now announced his retirement. He has probably forgotten all about it. Some will remember it for the rest of their lives.

 

Edberg takes on a real relevance in the story of Federer's retirement because they spoke together about how to go through the process.

Swedish great Edberg announced his own decision to quit in December 1995, a month before his 30th birthday, and the 1996 season became his farewell tour, feted everywhere he went.

But Edberg struggled with his form in that year of goodbyes and glad-handing, reaching only one final, losing to Boris Becker in the Queen's Club title match, and he ultimately regretted the hoopla that followed him around.

Speaking to The Tennis Podcast in 2020, Edberg explained how he warded Federer off following his example.

"We actually talked a little bit about it and I would not recommend it to anybody actually, even if it's a nice thing to do, because it does put too much pressure on yourself and there would be too many things going on in your mind," Edberg said.

"So if you're going to announce it, I would do it just before my last tournament or have it in my mind, but not for anybody else to know. It's very tough to handle, but at the same time it was a very memorable year, but I would not recommend it."

Federer only worked in tight tandem with Edberg for two years, but he has so much respect and admiration for the man that such advice was sure to have registered.

And now the 20-time grand slam winner is retiring. Let that sink in.

It will take some getting used to, tennis without Federer. Without his ritual beastings of young upstarts on tour, without his perfect manners, quasi-aristocratic foibles, and those multilingual, exquisitely delivered, post-match news conferences. Without Anna Wintour gazing down adoringly from the Royal Box. Without Mirka.

"I wanted to be a tennis player or a soccer player from a very young age," Federer said at Wimbledon some years ago.

Was there a Wimbledon final that tilted him the way of tennis?

"I think the Becker-Edberg final. I don't remember which year because they played a few times. I was sitting at home in the living room, watching them play, thinking hopefully one day I can be like them, you know," Federer said.

Edberg and Becker met in consecutive Wimbledon finals from 1988 to 1990, the Swede winning the first and last of those matches. Theirs was a great rivalry.

"That's I guess where idols and inspirations are good. They push you forward," Federer said. "Then along the way you joke around and say it's coming closer. When you win a practice match, you just fake like you've just won Wimbledon. All of a sudden it's really happening."

 

It was "really happening" for Federer by the late 1990s, as he won the boys' singles at Wimbledon in 1998, beating Georgia's Irakli Labadze, and barely 12 months later he was a top 100 player on the men's tour.

But he was a firebrand too as a teenager, something he was compelled to explain at Wimbledon in 2001, when the 19-year-old Federer became the centre of attention for the first time after defeating Pete Sampras, champion for the previous four years, in the fourth round.

Federer had been a picture of composure in that match and was asked whether he modelled his approach on ice-cool Pistol Pete.

"Not at all actually. I was throwing around my racket like you probably don't imagine," Federer said. "I was getting kicked out of practice sessions non-stop when I was 16. Now since maybe I think this year, I started just to relax a little bit more on court.

"I'm not smashing as many rackets as before. I realised that the racket throwing didn't help my game because I was always getting very negative."

When Federer got his hands on a grand slam trophy for the first time, it was Wimbledon in 2003 and he was lobbed a prescient question by a reporter who asked whether he might one day emulate seven-time champion Sampras at Wimbledon.

"This is one of his seven, you know. I'm so far away," he said. "I'm just happy to be on the board. If I look at all the players who have won here, a lot have been idols to me. Just to be on the board with (Bjorn) Borg and these people, it's just nice to be a part of history at Wimbledon."

Nevertheless, that was the first of five consecutive Wimbledon triumphs for Federer, matching a Borg record. Around such feats are legends created; because of the vicarious pleasure he provided to so many, crowds will forever flock around Federer, whether on Centre Court, Court 14 or his local food court.

As Federer's slam stack grew, and he nudged nearer Sampras' hauls of seven Wimbledon titles and 14 majors, the American great made his Swiss successor a promise: he would be there when those records began to fall.

When Federer fended off Andy Roddick 16-14 in the fifth set of the 2009 Wimbledon final to go to 15 slams, Sampras indeed was there, albeit he arrived late.

"It was a bit special," Federer said. "When he walked in and I saw him for the first time, I did get more nervous actually. I said hello to him, too, which is unusual. But I thought, I don't want to be rude."

And in 2017, nudging 36, Federer triumphed at Wimbledon for an eighth and final time, beating an injury hampered Marin Cilic.

"Winning eight is not something you can ever aim for, in my opinion," he said afterwards. "If you do, you must have so much talent and parents and the coaches that push you from the age of three on, who think you're like a project," he said. "I was not that kid. I was just really a normal guy growing up in Basel, hoping to make a career on the tennis tour."

At the beginning of 2018, he added a sixth Australian Open title to reach 20 slam crowns, a figure beyond the wildest dream of anyone in men's tennis before the Big Three showed up.

 

The argument rages on about who has been the greatest men's tennis star of all-time, and whether it should be Federer, Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal from this era who is the prime contender for such a nebulous crown.

Federer has a losing head-to-head against both his younger rivals, there is no escaping that fact. He trails Nadal 24-16 and Djokovic 27-23. Both have been whittling away at his records, taking their fair share. Yet Federer still has the most Open Era match wins among men at Wimbledon (105) and the Australian Open (102), the most wins in slams overall by a man (369), and the most grass-court singles titles in ATP tour history (19).

He won 103 tournaments, second only to Jimmy Connors (109). He underwent knee surgery twice in 2020 and returned to seek more silverware, because he believed he could still win, even as his 40th birthday approached.

Federer is the man who recalibrated the levels that players can reach in men's tennis, the game-changing figurehead that Nadal and Djokovic have been chasing from the outset of their own magnificent careers.

Without Federer to aim for, perhaps Nadal and Djokovic would not have scaled such great heights.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps...

What is certain is that the Federer era is ending. And that's the thing about eras, they always end. Sometimes, you've just got to be grateful to have lived through them. Roger that?

Roger Federer has announced his retirement from tennis, declaring next week's Laver Cup in London will be his farewell tournament.

The Swiss great, who has won 20 grand slams, becomes the first of the 'Big Three' on the men's tour to call it a day, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic still active.

Federer said he was making a "bittersweet decision", having battled knee injuries in the hope of returning to the tour.

Now 41 years old, Federer wrote in a statement on social media on Thursday: "As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries.

"I've worked hard to return to full competitive form. But I also know my body's capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear.

"I have played more than 1,500 matches over 24 years. Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamt, and now I must recognise when it is time to end my competitive career.

"The Laver Cup next week in London will be my final ATP event. I will play more tennis in the future, of course, but just not in grand slams or on the tour."

Serena Williams' long and illustrious tennis career looks to have drawn to a close after the American lost to Ajla Tomljanovic at the US Open on Friday. 

Following a long piece in Vogue last month, Williams wrote of her plan to "move in a different direction" after "these next few weeks", suggesting the tournament at Flushing Meadows would be her last outing.

Thanks to her success and brilliance on the court, Williams has become synonymous with tennis and is regarded by many as the greatest the women's sport has ever seen.

At the age of 40, Williams has persisted with tennis far longer than most do, and that is testament to her quality and enduring desire for success.

Though Williams left a glimmer of a chance that she may yet play again, joking that she "always did love Australia", she may well have taken to the court for the last time. Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the key facts, stats and figures of her career; in other words, Serena's remarkable legacy.

Twenty-three… and done?

Of course, the headline fact for Williams' career is her grand slam titles count.

She has won 23, which is more than anyone else in the Open era.

But she still had one target left: matching Margaret Court. The Australian's 24 grand slam successes include nine won before the Open era began in 1968, though her overall total has been the benchmark ever since she claimed her final crown at the US Open in 1975.

Clearly, victory for Williams at Flushing Meadows would have been the perfect farewell, but it was not to be. Will that near-miss encourage her to take one more shot in Court's homeland next year?

 

The finals hurdle

Had Williams managed to reach the championship match in Queens, she would have equalled another record.

She headed into the US Open having played in 33 grand slam finals, one more than Martina Navratilova.

But Chris Evert (34) sits out in front, and that record is now set to remain hers for many, many years.

Top of the pile

It's been a while now since Williams was last the highest-ranked player in the world, but in a way that only further highlights how remarkable her career has been.

She's spent 319 weeks ranked as world number one, which is behind only Steffi Graf (377) and Navratilova (332).

While many might have expected Williams to have been top of the pile for even longer, it's worth remembering how she's spent time out due to injuries and pregnancy, with her general involvement in top-level tennis decreasing after 2014 when she played 16 tournaments – in 2016 that halved to eight, and during no year since has she played in more.

Additionally, some will also be surprised to learn she actually only finished the year as the top-ranked female player five times. Nevertheless, that's still third to only Graf (eight) and Navratilova (seven).

Go hard or go home

Such has been Williams' quality, she was always considered a threat regardless of the surface – she's won each grand slam at least three times.

But there's no denying she was at her most lethal on hard courts.

She has won 48 WTA Tour-level titles on hard courts, which is 11 more than anyone else (Graf) in the Open era.

Those 48 come from a grand total of 73 across all surfaces, leaving her ranked fifth behind Navratilova (167), Evert (157), Graf (107) and Court (92).

 

Surface to say…

Williams' comfort on hard courts goes even further than that.

She's won 541 matches on the surface, making her one of just two female players to surpass 500 victories on one specific ground type.

Navratilova (600 on carpet) is the only other player to achieve the feat, with Serena's sister Venus (498 on hard) the closest to the 23-time grand slam champion.

The grass is greener

Despite that unrivalled excellence, hard courts may not be the surface many feel to be most synonymous with Williams, however.

Wimbledon is the tournament that would appear to be her favourite.

She's reached the final at SW19 11 times. Only Navratilova can better that record for the most finals at one tournament – though it's worth saying she contested the WTA Finals and Chicago 14 times each, Eastbourne 13 times and 12 at Wimbledon.

Serena Williams' long and illustrious tennis career looks to have drawn to a close after the American lost to Ajla Tomljanovic at the US Open on Friday. 

Following a long piece in Vogue last month, Williams wrote of her plan to "move in a different direction" after "these next few weeks", suggesting the tournament at Flushing Meadows would be her last outing.

Thanks to her success and brilliance on the court, Williams has become synonymous with tennis and is regarded by many as the greatest the women's sport has ever seen.

At the age of 40, Williams has persisted with tennis far longer than most do, and that is testament to her quality and enduring desire for success.

Though Williams left a glimmer of a chance that she may yet play again, joking that she "always did love Australia", she may well have taken to the court for the last time. Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the key facts, stats and figures of her career; in other words, Serena's remarkable legacy.

Twenty-three… and done?

Of course, the headline fact for Williams' career is her grand slam titles count.

She has won 23, which is more than anyone else in the Open era.

But she still had one target left: matching Margaret Court. The Australian's 24 grand slam successes include nine won before the Open era began in 1968, though her overall total has been the benchmark ever since she claimed her final crown at the US Open in 1975.

Clearly, victory for Williams at Flushing Meadows would have been the perfect farewell, but it was not to be. Will that near-miss encourage her to take one more shot in Court's homeland next year?

 

The finals hurdle

Had Williams managed to reach the championship match in Queens, she would have equalled another record.

She headed into the US Open having played in 33 grand slam finals, one more than Martina Navratilova.

But Chris Evert (34) sits out in front, and that record is now set to remain hers for many, many years.

Top of the pile

It's been a while now since Williams was last the highest-ranked player in the world, but in a way that only further highlights how remarkable her career has been.

She's spent 319 weeks ranked as world number one, which is behind only Steffi Graf (377) and Navratilova (332).

While many might have expected Williams to have been top of the pile for even longer, it's worth remembering how she's spent time out due to injuries and pregnancy, with her general involvement in top-level tennis decreasing after 2014 when she played 16 tournaments – in 2016 that halved to eight, and during no year since has she played in more.

Additionally, some will also be surprised to learn she actually only finished the year as the top-ranked female player five times. Nevertheless, that's still third to only Graf (eight) and Navratilova (seven).

Go hard or go home

Such has been Williams' quality, she was always considered a threat regardless of the surface – she's won each grand slam at least three times.

But there's no denying she was at her most lethal on hard courts.

She has won 48 WTA Tour-level titles on hard courts, which is 11 more than anyone else (Graf) in the Open era.

Those 48 come from a grand total of 73 across all surfaces, leaving her ranked fifth behind Navratilova (167), Evert (157), Graf (107) and Court (92).

 

Surface to say…

Williams' comfort on hard courts goes even further than that.

She's won 541 matches on the surface, making her one of just two female players to surpass 500 victories on one specific ground type.

Navratilova (600 on carpet) is the only other player to achieve the feat, with Serena's sister Venus (498 on hard) the closest to the 23-time grand slam champion.

The grass is greener

Despite that unrivalled excellence, hard courts may not be the surface many feel to be most synonymous with Williams, however.

Wimbledon is the tournament that would appear to be her favourite.

She's reached the final at SW19 11 times. Only Navratilova can better that record for the most finals at one tournament – though it's worth saying she contested the WTA Finals and Chicago 14 times each, Eastbourne 13 times and 12 at Wimbledon.

Jordan. Ali. Woods. Williams. That's it, that's the company.

Serena Williams is about to draw the curtain on one of the great sporting careers.

A brilliant black sports star excelling on a global stage, she has shifted and shaped opinions over the past 25 years.

Her life has been touched by tragedy as well as great joy, and she has just about lived to tell the tale.

As she prepares for her final US Open, Stats Perform looks back at the obstacles that have been put in front of the 23-time grand slam champion. 

Racism since her early days

After learning the game in Compton, Williams and sister Venus endured plenty of outrageous treatment before a notorious incident in 2001 at Indian Wells.

Russian Elena Dementieva reacted to a quarter-final defeat to Venus by saying the semi-final between the sisters would be determined by their father, Richard. That baseless allegation of manipulation was followed by an injured Venus withdrawing from the match against Serena shortly before its start time.

Serena met Kim Clijsters in the final, and there were grim jeers for Venus and Richard when both took their grandstand seats. They and Serena copped brutal treatment from spectators, with Richard stating he was racially abused.

Serena beat Clijsters but did not play at Indian Wells again until 2015, recalling her memories of 2001 in an article for Time, explaining it had "haunted" the family, particularly her father.

She wrote: "He dedicated his whole life to prepping us for this incredible journey, and there he had to sit and watch his daughter being taunted, sparking cold memories of his experiences growing up in the South."

Williams told Sirius XM in February 2021: "I had to make people realise that it's okay to be black and to play tennis."

Sexism never far away

Williams considered causing a scene at Wimbledon in 2011 after being sent out to the distant Court Two to play a second-round match.

It seemed a bizarre move – probably just ignorant – to put the defending women's champion anywhere but Centre or Court One, and while she was reluctant to fully vent her frustration, it was obvious enough.

Seemingly pointing a finger at those in power, Williams said: "They're not going to change."

An angry Williams accused chair umpire Carlos Ramos of sexism in a stormy 2018 US Open final, when she lost to Naomi Osaka.

Williams was warned for receiving coaching on court, which she denied, then penalised a point for racket abuse, before being docked a game after accusing Ramos of being "a thief".

"I'm here fighting for women's rights and for women's equality and for all kinds of stuff," Williams said afterwards. "For me to say 'thief' and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. He's never taken a game from a man because they said 'thief'."

Williams was fined $17,000 by tournament chiefs but backed by the WTA, which runs the women's tour outside the slams.

Perilous childbirth

In February 2018, Williams wrote an article for CNN that began with the line: "I almost died after giving birth to my daughter, Olympia."

She wrote of having had "a pretty easy pregnancy" and a routine C-section in August 2017, only for that to be followed by a pulmonary embolism and "a slew of health complications" she was "lucky to have survived", including a large hematoma in her abdomen. Her first six weeks as a mother were spent in bed.

Sister's death

It was September 2003, shortly after Williams underwent knee surgery that forced her out of the US Open, that her sister Yetunde Price was shot and killed in Compton.

Price was 31, with a local gangster sentenced to 15 years for voluntary manslaughter.

Williams addressed court after the April 2006 sentencing of Price's killer, saying she had "wanted to let you know that this was unfair to our family, and our family has always been positive and we always try to help people".

In 2018, Williams was trounced 6-1 6-0 by British player Johanna Konta at the Silicon Valley Classic. She came onto court moments after learning the man who shot her sister dead had been freed from prison, and later told Time: "I couldn't shake it out of my mind."

Walking on broken glass

It's an idiom, and an Annie Lennox song, but walking on broken glass was almost the moment that ended Williams' career.

It could have been a case of unlucky 13 for Williams in July 2010 when within days of winning her 13th grand slam title she suffered a foot injury, and later revealed it had been caused by stepping on glass while leaving a Munich restaurant.

She told USA Today: "I was standing, recovering, thinking I got a little cut and telling my nephew, who was with us, to be careful. Then my practice partner put a cellphone down to the floor so we could see, and there was a huge puddle of blood. I said, 'OMG, I don't think this is good'."

She needed both feet stitching up and underwent surgery to fix a drooping big toe, missing almost a full year on tour. Early in 2011 she underwent treatment for a pulmonary embolism and blood clot in her lungs, after checks were carried out during her recovery.

Chasing Court

Margaret Court has been the figure Williams has chased but looks destined to fall short of, with the Australian set to remain tantalisingly out of reach.

Four final losses for Williams since landing her 23rd major have been increasingly agonising, and it has been clear that her primary motivation for playing on all this time has been to surpass Court.

Court's controversial views on the LGBTQ community have upset many in tennis. Williams, however, just wanted to finish top of the pile, regardless of who was presently leading the way in the grand slam race.

Barring a sporting near-miracle over the US Open fortnight, she will remain second in that race, albeit the grand slam leader in the Open Era – winner of the most titles since the majors embraced professionalism in 1968.

Serena Williams' long and illustrious tennis career is drawing to a close after the American confirmed on Tuesday that the countdown has begun.

Following a long piece in Vogue, Williams wrote of her plan to "move in a different direction" after "these next few weeks", suggesting the US Open – which begins in late August – will be her last outing.

Thanks to her success and brilliance on the court, Williams has become synonymous with tennis and is regarded by many as the greatest the women's sport has ever seen.

Yet, her seemingly imminent retirement cannot be seen as a shock. At the age of 40, Williams has persisted with tennis far longer than most do, and that is testament to her quality and enduring desire for success.

With Williams now reaching the end, Stats Perform takes a look at the key facts, stats and figures of her career; in other words, Serena's remarkable legacy.

Twenty-three… and counting?

Of course, the headline fact for Williams' career is her grand slam titles count.

She has won 23, which is more than anyone else in the Open era.

But she's still got one target left: matching Margaret Court. The Australian's 24 grand slam successes include nine won before the Open era began in 1968, though her overall total has been the benchmark ever since she claimed her final crown at the US Open in 1975.

Clearly, victory for Williams at Flushing Meadows would be the perfect farewell.

 

The finals hurdle

Even if Williams only reaches the championship match next month, she'll still be equalling a different record.

Assuming she does compete in Queens, Williams heads into the US Open having played in 33 grand slam finals, one more than Martina Navratilova.

But Chris Evert (34) sits out in front, and that record will remain hers for many, many years if Williams cannot reach the finale at Flushing Meadows.

Top of the pile

It's been a while now since Williams was last the highest-ranked player in the world, but in a way that only further highlights how remarkable her career has been.

She's spent 319 weeks ranked as world number one, which is behind only Steffi Graf (377) and Navratilova (332).

While many might have expected Williams to have been top of the pile for even longer, it's worth remembering how she's spent time out due to injuries and pregnancy, with her general involvement in top-level tennis decreasing after 2014 when she played 16 tournaments – in 2016 that halved to eight, and during no year since has she played in more.

Additionally, some will also be surprised to learn she actually only finished the year as the top-ranked female player five times. Nevertheless, that's still third to only Graf (eight) and Navratilova (seven).

Go hard or go home

Such has been Williams' quality, she was always considered a threat regardless of the surface – she's won each grand slam at least three times.

But there's no denying she was at her most lethal on hard courts.

She has won 48 WTA Tour-level titles on hard courts, which is 11 more than anyone else (Graf) in the Open era.

Those 48 come from a grand total of 73 across all surfaces, leaving her ranked fifth behind Navratilova (167), Evert (157), Graf (107) and Court (92).

 

Surface to say…

Williams' comfort on hard courts goes even further than that.

She's won 539 matches on the surface, making her one of just two female players to surpass 500 victories on one specific ground type.

Navratilova (600 on carpet) is the only other player to achieve the feat, with Serena's sister Venus (498 on hard) the closest to the 23-time grand slam champion.

The grass is greener

Despite that unrivalled excellence, hard courts may not be the surface many feel to be most synonymous with Williams, however.

Wimbledon is the tournament that would appear to be her favourite.

She's reached the final at SW19 11 times. Only Navratilova can better that record for the most finals at one tournament – though it's worth saying she contested the WTA Finals and Chicago 14 times each, Eastbourne 13 times and 12 at Wimbledon.

Novak Djokovic intends to compete at the US Open at the end of August, but will not risk a reoccurrence of the vaccination-related furore that saw him deported from Australia.

The Serbian lifted his seventh Wimbledon title earlier this month, moving level with Pete Sampras for the second-most wins at the All England Club, only behind Roger Federer (eight).

Djokovic also returned to just one grand slam title behind Rafael Nadal's record of 22, with the US Open that starts on August 29 the final headline act of the 2022 season.

While Djokovic enjoyed more Wimbledon success, it was only his second major of the year after the world number seven missed the Australian Open in January due to his refusal to be vaccinated.

His insistence to not take the vaccination against COVID-19 also saw him miss the Indian Wells Masters in March, owing to the United States' coronavirus rulings.

The United States still does not allow unvaccinated foreigners to enter the country without an exemption – meaning Djokovic's ability to appear in New York is in doubt.

Despite expressing his hopes to feature at the hard-court major, Djokovic insisted he will not be willing to face a repeat of the ongoings in Australia in order to compete.

"I'm not going to go to America if I don't have permission, so the Australian saga for me was not pleasant at all," he said after opening a tennis complex in the Bosnian town of Visoko.

"People still think I forced my way to Australia and tried to come in with no papers, permission or exemption – it is not true.

"That was proven in the court cases, so I would never go into a country where I didn't have permission to travel. I would love to come back to Australia. I love Australia, I had my best Grand Slam results in that country.

"Hopefully I can be there in January because I want to be there, and I also want to be in New York. I want to be in America and everywhere I can possibly play."

 

Djokovic remains hopeful for a change in policy in America given he has no intentions to take the vaccination, nor does he envisage an exemption coming.

"I am a professional tennis player, I don't go into politics or anything else because that doesn't interest me," he added.

"I have my stance and I am a proponent for freedom to choose what is best for you. I respect everything and everybody, and I expect people to at least respect my decision.

"If I have permission, I'll be there. If I don't, I won't be there – it's not the end of the world."

Novak Djokovic is hoping for a change of policy to allow him to feature at the US Open after ending an "exhausting and demanding period" by winning his seventh Wimbledon title.

Djokovic clinched his 21st grand slam win by recovering from one set down to beat Nick Kyrgios in Sunday's Wimbledon final, moving to within one major title of Rafael Nadal's record of 22.

On his 32nd grand slam final appearance – an Open Era record – the Serb claimed his fourth consecutive title at the All England Club with a 4-6 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7-3) victory in a tense encounter.

But it has not been plain sailing for Djokovic this year, who missed January's Australian Open after being deported over his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and was unable to enter the United States to play the Indian Wells Masters in March.

The United States still does not allow unvaccinated foreigners to enter the country without an exemption – meaning Djokovic's ability to appear in New York is in doubt.

But he is hopeful a change in policy could alter that state of affairs before the tournament gets underway on August 29, as he reiterated he would not get vaccinated and saw an exemption as unlikely. 

"It is a weird situation," Djokovic said. "I am on vacation. It has been quite an exhausting and demanding period for me. I got what I wanted here. 

"I'll wait hopefully for some good news [a change of policy] from the US. I'm not vaccinated and I'm not planning to get vaccinated. I don't think exemption is realistically possible.

"We'll have to see what the schedule looks like then. I doubt I'll chase points. Things have changed in the last year and a half for me. 

"I achieved the historic weeks of being ranked number one, that I worked for all my life. Now I prioritise slams and big tournaments where I feel good."

 

Djokovic's Wimbledon triumph comes at the end of a challenging few months, with the 35-year-old losing year's US Open final and exiting the 2022 French Open to Nadal either side of his much-publicised deportation from Australia. 

And the Serb, who claimed a first career win over Kyrgios on the biggest stage on Sunday, acknowledged: "This year has not been like last year.

"In the first several months of the year I was not at a good place mentally, emotionally. Everything that followed Australia has been a huge challenge and obstacle for me to overcome emotionally. 

"It wasn't that easy to close that chapter. It caused turbulence inside of me and I just had to weather the storm.

"I realised it would take time to regroup and rebalance. All these things off the court were causing so much distraction and pressure for me and the people around me. You can’t pretend it's not happening.

"By Rome and Paris I was already playing the tennis that I want to play. I liked my chances coming into Wimbledon. I think I managed everything pretty well today.

"Now I'm over the moon with joy and happiness of experiencing this moment once again. I don't take any wins for granted, and particularly not in Wimbledon. Every time feels special in its own way.

"Centre court and this tournament still has the most special place in my heart because it has always been my childhood dream tournament. Every time I step out on court it does not feel like anything else. I feel very connected with this court and this tournament. I'm very happy."

Rafael Nadal says it is "crazy" for people to even consider him completing the calendar Grand Slam after triumphing at the Australian Open and French Open.

The Spaniard returned from his long battle with a foot injury to claim the first major of the year in Melbourne, moving clear of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic for the most grand slam titles in men's history.

Nadal added a record-extending 22nd major to his collection as he lifted a 14th French Open title on Sunday with a straight-sets victory over Casper Ruud.

The 36-year-old was given a couple of injections before every match and will undergo radio frequency injections in a bid to ensure he can go in search of a third major title of the year at the All England Club.

Nadal remains unsure whether he would undergo a major operation to prolong his career, but hopes to be able to be in London when Wimbledon starts on June 27.

Success on the grass courts of Wimbledon would be a third major of the year before the US Open starts at the end of August, but Nadal insists he cannot look that far ahead on his quest for all four grand slams.

"It's crazy to think about completing the Grand Slam after Australia and Roland Garros," he told

"I don't even consider it. More than winning the Grand Slam, I would sign up just to be able to play all four tournaments.

"It's crazy. To win all four, it seems crazy to me because it is something that nobody has done since Rod Laver. 

"The one who came closest was Novak last year. It's crazy to think about it."

While Nadal remains in contention for the calendar Slam, he continues to battle through a foot injury that has plagued him throughout his career.

But the prospect of retirement does not concern Nadal, who is prepared for life after tennis given the amount of times he has thought injury would curtail his playing days.

"I imagine just as I have experienced it many times in my career that I have had to be out of competition for months due to injuries," he added. 

"I have always been happy outside of tennis. It is not something that makes me lose sleep or have any fear of my life after tennis. 

"I have and have always had many things that make me happy beyond tennis."

Novak Djokovic hopes to have his visa reinstated so he can return to feature at the Australian Open following a change of government Down Under.

Djokovic eased to a 6-3 6-3 6-2 victory over Aljaz Bedene at the French Open on Friday to set up a last-16 clash with Diego Schwartzman.

The world number one remains on course to meet record 21-time grand slam winner Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros, in what is the Serbian's first major of the year.

Djokovic was banned from playing at the Australian Open in Melbourne and was deported from the country due to his unvaccinated COVID-19 status in January.

The 34-year-old cannot be granted another visa for three years due to Australia's immigration laws, but former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously suggested he could be allowed entry sooner under the "right circumstances".

Djokovic hopes the arrival of new Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will boost his visa-related hopes of featuring in Melbourne at the start of 2023.

"In terms of the government, yes, I heard the news, but, I mean, I don't know anything about whether my visa is going to be reinstated or whether I'm going to be allowed to come back to Australia," he told reporters.

"I would like to. I would like to go there and play Australian Open. I don't hold any grudges. Look, you know, it was what it was.

"If I have an opportunity to go back to Australia and play a place where I made the biggest success in my career in Grand Slams, I would love to come back."

As for the next clash with Schwartzman as Djokovic aims to equal Nadal's 21 grand slams, the Serbian is expecting a tough test in Paris.

"Well, he's one of the quickest players we have on tour, and his best results in his career came on clay, so of course he's a tough opponent without a doubt," he added. 

"I know him well. We played some really good matches on different surfaces. So playing against him, you always have to expect another ball coming back. I'm ready for the physical battle.

"I haven't spent too much time on the court. I have been striking the ball really well, so I look forward to that challenge."

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