Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Navratilova backs Serena

22 January 2013, 08:30

Melbourne - Martina Navratilova backed Serena Williams to create history by sweeping to a calendar-year Grand Slam after she marched into the Australian Open quarter-finals.

The tennis legend described Williams as the greatest player of her generation - and said "if anyone can, Serena can" achieve the holy grail of winning all four major titles in the same year.

"We know that Serena at her best is better than anybody else out there, if for no other reason than her serve. It sets everything up," Navratilova said at Melbourne Park.

"She's strong and she's solid. She very confident and very focused right now. In the past there might have been times when you could catch her off-guard, but not these days.

"She's been very focused since she lost at the French last year. She's very motivated. She's a dictator."

Steffi Graf was the last woman to win the Australian Open, French Open, US Open and Wimbledon in the same season, way back in 1988.

No man has claimed the Grand Slam in the Open era, with even Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic all falling one short in their finest seasons. The last male to do it was Australia's Rod Laver in 1969.

Williams, riding one of the hottest streaks of her career, a 20-match unbeaten run, admitted at the Brisbane International a fortnight ago that the calendar-year slam was on her radar.

The closest she has come was in 2002-2003, when she held all four majors consecutively for the so-called 'Serena Slam'. Close, but not quite the feat that stands higher than any other in tennis.

Ahead of Williams' quarter-final against American teen Sloane Stephens, Navratilova said the Grand Slam was "definitely possible" this year -- as long as luck is on her side.

"We have seen what can happen physically. She hurt her ankle in her first match. She hit herself in the face with her racquet," she said. "There is a lot of luck involved. You can eat some bad fish and next day, you can't walk.

"It's 28 straight matches you have to win but I do believe that if anybody can do it, it's Serena. The way she's playing now, she's capable of it."

Williams recovered from a first-round loss at the French Open last year to win Wimbledon and the US Open, leaving her with 15 major titles and within range of the 18 held by Navratilova and Chris Evert.

However, she remains some way off the 24 majors won by Margaret Court, followed by Graf on 22 and Helen Wills Moody on 19.

"In tennis terms, Serena is still very young," Navratilova said.

"At her age, I think I had played twice as many matches. She has young legs at 31, which should be helpful. The way she plays, not many of her matches are too physical or go too long.

"She is physically so imposing she can dominate matches. It does get harder after you reach 30 but Serena is Serena. She has power and she's taken tennis to another level. If she is fit and motivated, which she clearly is at the moment, it's hard to see anyone beating her all year."

Navratilova, 56, who has 31 doubles and 10 mixed doubles majors along with her singles crowns, was described by another former world number one, Billie Jean King, as "the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who's ever lived."

That so, Williams is regarded as the finest female singles player in history. Her power-laden game and aggressive attitude blow most rivals off the court.

Navratilova, however, said she would have fancied her chances against Williams if they had played in the same era.

"People ask me if I think I could have beaten Serena," Navratilova said.

"I say to them, do you think I could have beaten Justine Henin? They say yes. I say well, Justine beat Serena, so there's your answer.

"I think I would be able to handle her pace. Serena has a harder time playing people who are fast, and I was pretty fast in my day. I think I would be able to neutralise her power.

"If she had an unbelievable serving day, nobody beats her. Without a great serving day, though, I think I might be in good shape."



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...