The best is still to come: Serena Williams


Even after 15 Grand Slam titles and at the age of 31, Serena Williams says the best is still to come, after ending a remarkable comeback season with the WTA Championships title she first won over a decade ago.
“I definitely think I can improve some more,” she said after battering an in-form Maria Sharapova to a 6-4, 6-3 defeat with an outstanding display of serving and heavy hitting in Istanbul on Sunday.
“Especially when I was out there I thought, ‘Okay, I want to work on this in November’ (during the close season). And, ‘Oh, okay, I’m going to work on that one in November’.
“So, I was thinking of all these things I can work on and I can improve on. I think every day, whether it’s life or whether it’s playing tennis, we always can improve as people or as whatever we do.
“The day I feel that I can’t improve, I think that’s the day I should probably hang up my racket.”
If Williams’ prediction is right, then the achievements of Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, who each won 18 Grand Slam titles, may be within her reach. That has only been bettered during the open era by Steffi Graf, who won 22.
Williams has won the Olympics, Wimbledon and US Open titles in the last four months — a dramatic turn-around from a 12-month absence in 2010 and 2011 in which she suffered from a badly cut foot and life-threatening blood clots on her lungs.
The US player is probably capable of improving her net game in singles significantly and perhaps varying the pace and angles of her ground strokes more as well. The crucial imponderable will be her ability to maintain fitness.
Though she is only world ranked three, behind Sharapova and the year-end world number one Victoria Azarenka, the American is likely to become the bookies’ favourite to win the next Grand Slam, the Australian Open in January.
Williams was reluctant to agree with the suggestions but said another “Serena Slam” — holding all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously — was possible: she would have to win both the Australian and the French Open title in June to achieve that.
“I don’t know. I could. We’ll see. I have a chance. Hopefully,” she said, mulling over the idea.
It would be unwise, though, to overlook the prospects of Sharapova, despite the Russian having lost nine times in a row against Williams since beating her in the 2004 Wimbledon final.
Sharapova has gradually remodelled her game well after suffering the kind of rotator cuff shoulder injury from which most players never fully recover.
“I’m proud that I’m moving in the right direction in improving my game. I’ve accomplished a lot of things this year I really wanted,” she added, referring partly to the French Open title which completed her career Grand Slam.
“I have a lot of positive thoughts moving into next year.”
Azarenka lands year-end WTA top ranking: Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on Monday secured the end of year WTA top ranking, finishing the season 550 points ahead of Russian Maria Sharapova.
US star Serena Williams, who beat Sharapova in Sunday’s Masters final, ended the season in third spot, capping a remarkable come-back year after a lengthy time on the sidelines due to a potentially life-threatening blood clot on the lungs.
The only movement of note in the top 20 was a fall from sixth to eighth spot for Czech Petra Kvitova, who saw her Masters challenge wrecked owing to bronchitis.
Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, though, could still edge into the top 10 from her current 11th spot as she is competing in Sofia from Tuesday, meaning she could move above Marion Bartoli of France, who is not competing in the event.
Top 20 WTA rankings
1. Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 10595 pts
2. Maria Sharapova (RUS) 10045
3. Serena Williams (USA) 9400
4. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 7425
5. Angelique Kerber (GER) 5550
6. Sara Errani (ITA) 5100 (+1)
7. Na Li (CHN) 5095 (+1)
8. Petra Kvitova (CZE) 5085 (-2)
9. Samantha Stosur (AUS) 4135
10. Marion Bartoli (FRA) 3740
11. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 3685
12. Ana Ivanovic (SRB) 2900
13. Nadia Petrova (RUS) 2725
14. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) 2495
15. Maria Kirilenko (RUS) 2463
16. Roberta Vinci (ITA) 2400
17. Lucie Safarova (CZE) 2125
18. Julia Goerges (GER) 1965
19. Kaia Kanepi (EST) 1929
20. Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 1841