Monica Seles believes Serena Williams can become the greatest women's tennis player of all time by beating Margaret Court's incredible record of 24 Grand Slam titles. While Williams, at 28, is only halfway to that total, Seles, the former world No 1 and winner of nine Grand Slam titles herself, insists that the achievement is still not beyond her.
'If Serena can stay fit she'll beat all the records,' said Seles after Williams became Sportswoman of the Year at the Laureus World Sports Awards. 'I appreciate she's got a bit to go yet, but really think she'll do it because she has the potential to be the greatest player of all time. Serena now possesses every attribute required to be the best, and to stay the best. 'She has a great serve, a sweet return, fantastic movement and all this is combined with awesome power. As if this is not enough, no player comes close to being as mentally strong as her.'
To beat the Grand Slam record of Australian legend Court, Williams would have to increase her annual tally of titles considerably. Since the 'Serena Slam' of 2002-2003, during which she won an incredible five titles, injuries and erratic form have restricted her Grand Slam wins to six in seven years. But Seles is adamant that -despite the evidence of her abusive outburst against a line judge at last year's US Open, for which she received a suspended three-year ban from the tournament - Williams has matured professionally and personally.
Williams won two Slams last year, including her third Wimbledon title, and started 2010 by winning the Australian Open in emphatic style. Seles believes that not even the return from retirement of the two Belgians, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, will stop the American from dominating the women's game. 'I reckon Serena's playing her best tennis ever right now,' said Seles. 'She seems to have moved up a gear. She's moved on.
"You can't really make comparisons with previous eras, but it's hard to see any of the greats living with Serena when she's playing as well as she did in the Australian Open."