Former world number one Martina Navratilova backs Serena Williams to surpass 20 Grand Slam titles.
The 57-year-old, who won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 major women’s doubles titles (an all-time record), and 10 major mixed doubles titles, is also confident the 32-year-old Williams will equal her singles haul at the Australian Open, which begins next week in Melbourne.
Williams, 32, who surpassed Navratilova’s singles haul at the US Open last year to claim her 17th Grand Slam title is one below the Czech-American and seven below Margaret Court’s all-time record.
Navratilova, speaking with reporters in Adelaide where she will play in the World Tennis Challenge exhibition later on Tuesday, said: “If she can stay healthy there is no doubt she can go into the 20s, the sky is the limit.
“I know how hard it is once you get to 30, all those little niggling injuries get worse and it’s much easier to have an off day. “But still, she is in her 30s … she is eager and winning is very contagious – once you get really used to it, you don’t want to let go of it.”
Williams, considered the best tennis player of modern age, has, however, been hampered by a number of serious injuries, including a knee injury in 2010 and cut foot that forced her to miss almost a year on the tennis circuit in 2010-2011.
Paradoxically it was those injury-enforced layoffs that could be helpful in prolonging her career, according to Navratilova.
“At age 30, she had played about half the tournaments than I had played at 30, so she is fresh in tennis terms,” the 9-time Wimbledon champion opined. “She seems to be playing her best tennis right now.”