Australian Open: History beckons as Serena Williams shoots for Slam history

Ruben Holloway
January 11, 2019

Halep finally broke her Grand Slam duck in 2018 with French Open glory, but the Romanian crashed out of the first round in NY when losing 6-2 6-4 to Kanepi.

Djokovic is hoping to become the 8th man in history to win at least 7 titles at any Grand Slam event, while Federer, who has won 8 Wimbledon titles, has the chance to become the first man in history to win at least 7 titles at 2 different Grand Slam events.

And Evert, an 18-time slam victor who will be part of ESPN's coverage of the tournament, believes that ultimately Williams' hefty list of accomplishments will outweigh the few contentious moments in her glittering career.

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Wozniacki proved she can still compete by winning in Beijing in October but whether she can cope with the gruelling two-week slog of a Grand Slam remains to be seen, and she was bundled out of the Auckland Classic last week in round two.

When it comes to Williams, who is seeking a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title at the January 14-27 Australian Open, Evert believes it is her remarkable journey from the hardscrabble courts in Compton where she learned the game to the top of the tennis world that will be remembered most.

The manner in which she claimed her maiden Slam was far from ideal - with Serena's furious tirade against the umpire overshadowing Osaka's breakthrough moment.

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The 28-year-old Dane insists she can manage the debilitating auto-immune condition, which sometimes leaves her so exhausted she cannot raise her arms above her head.

In an interview with TIME's Sean Gregory, the 21-year-old said she wouldn't change anything that happened in her win against Serena Williams last September, when the Japanese-born player earned her first Grand Slam title under a wave of boos from the crowd in Flushing Meadows.

Osaka suffered a straight-sets loss to Lesia Tsurenko in the semi-final of the Brisbane International and withdrew from the Sydney International in frustration. "Maybe she has it even more now that she is a working mother", Evert said. I feel at home here. "I didn't experience her life".

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"There's no doubt that was a negative but there's no doubt that also previous year when you look at the bigger picture, the fact that she came back from having a child she was really nowhere near 100 percent and she still made the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open was incredible". "I think keeping them a bit of a secret helps me do the best I can".

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