Serena Williams takes aim at Margaret Court amid Wimbledon quest

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·Sports Editor
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Serena Williams, pictured here in action at the French Open.
Serena Williams will attempt to equal Margaret Court's record at Wimbledon. Image: Getty

Serena Williams heads to Wimbledon with what appears to be her best chance to equal Margaret Court's all-time grand slam record in years.

The 23-time grand slam champion faces a diminished field on her best surface at the All England Club, with question marks surrounding some of her biggest rivals.

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The 39-year-old continues her quest for a record-equalling 24th major title, but her inconsistency has left many to wonder if Williams has the mental and physical strength to string together seven high quality matches.

"That's the question everybody's been asking," former World No.1 and 18-time grand slam champion Chris Evert said on a call with reporters on Thursday.

"This is to me her golden opportunity.

"If there was ever a year that has looked good in the last few years, if there ever was a grand slam she is capable, more than capable, of winning... it would be this year's Wimbledon."

Top seed Barty and defending champion Simona Halep are battling injury concerns and will start their Wimbledon campaigns without a single match on grass in preparation.

And with four-time grand slam champ and World No.2 Naomi Osaka missing due to mental health reasons, the door is firmly ajar for Williams.

Since winning her 23rd major at the Australian Open in 2017, Williams has reached four grand slam finals but finished runner-up every time.

That includes the last time Wimbledon was played in 2019 when she lost to Halep in the final, as well as 2018 when Angelique Kerber was crowned champion.

Simona Halep and Serena Williams, pictured here after the 2019 Wimbledon final.
Simona Halep and Serena Williams look on after the 2019 Wimbledon final. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Coco Gauff a dark horse at Wimbledon?

Evert said other threats to Williams including Bianca Andreescu, Aryna Sabalenka, Barbora Krejcikova and Karolina Pliskova have yet to establish themselves as great grass-court players.

"(But) there's always two sides to any coin. This new generation is fearless and confident," she added.

Evert added that 17-year-old Coco Gauff, who took Wimbledon by storm in 2019 when she beat former champion Venus Williams en route to the fourth round, could pose as a major dark horse.

Gauff made the French Open quarter-finals this month, and even though her Wimbledon preparations suffered a blip when she lost to Anastasija Sevastova in a warm-up event on Wednesday, she is poised to take the next step in her young career.

"She has developed her skill set to another level during the clay court season," Evert said.

"She got better and better with each tournament. I think if her serve is on, she could very well get to the second week, even make a quarter or a semi, very possible at Wimbledon."

Former World No.1 John McEnroe echoed Evert's view.

"I think she could potentially absolutely get to late in the event, semis, finals. It's conceivable if things go well," he said.

Wimbledon main draw matches begin on Monday.

with Reuters

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