© Ella Ling

US Open

Exclusive interview with Patrick Mouratoglou

   

Exclusive interview with Serena Williams’s coaching consultant Patrick Mouratoglou.

Was that the best tennis you have ever seen from Serena? “I believe that Serena came back to her best level. It is difficult to say if she plays today better than she ever did, but she isn’t very far from it. She is more experienced, her serve is better than it has never been, and this makes her a tougher opponent than ever.”

Do you think the other players are intimidated by Serena? “I think that players have nothing to lose against Serena and some of them play their best tennis like Zheng or Shvedova did in Wimbledon.”

How can Serena improve from here? “Serena can still improve in many details that can make her even more difficult to beat. The most interesting of all is her motivation to keep on learning and improving even though she could think that she is good enough.”

Was winning Olympic singles gold as important to Serena as any grand slam title? “Winning the Olympic Gold Medal cannot be compared with winning a Grand Slam because there is a patriotic dimention. She also felt that she was playing for her country and that made the feeling of winning different.”

Serena has said that she would like to compete in Rio in 2016 – can you see that happening? “I think that it is possible. Since she keeps her motivation to play and win, since she feels competitive and able to keep on winning Grand Slams, it is her health and the ability to be efficient in keeping her body in a good shape and far from injuries that will determine if she’ll still be playing in 2016.”

Serena has not always played a heavy schedule of tennis over the years – is that now helping to extend her career? “When one has won so many Grand Slams, one has to proceed in a different schedule taking into consideration the main goals of the year in order to be ready and at the top in those key moments. Of course playing less and in better conditions is one of the keys for lasting longer.”

Serena is playing great tennis in her 30s, and Federer is No 1 again – is professional tennis getting older? If so, why? “Serena is a special champion. There is one Serena Williams. She is dominating women’s tennis for many years. Federer is probably the biggest champion of the century. Those two players are too special to make a rule taking them into consideration. They both last long because of their level of play, their love for their sport and their dedication.”

Were you at all surprised and disappointed by the controversy over Serena’s dance on Centre Court (with some saying this she was somehow being disrespectful)? “I did not hear anything about it and I do not care about those comments. She was happy and expressed it. I think that is great in this tennis world with so many rules. She was right to express her feelings and show her personality. She cannot please everyone. Not everyone likes her, but she is herself and natural. That is that type of behaviour that tennis needs.”

Do you believe that Serena is the greatest female player of all time? How would she have beaten Graf or Navratilova? “I cannot answer this question. Only your titles can tell who is the greatest. For the moment, Navratilova and Graf have more Grand Slam Titles than Serena. But Serena is still in activity. We will count at the end of her career.”

How important is it for Serena that she does well in New York, after the disappointment and controversy of last year’s final? “Serena is American. She plays at home and it is always something special. She is playing great tennis at the moment and she wants to extend her winning streak. New York is the perfect place for doing it.”

www.mouratoglou.com