Mats Wilander fears Serena Williams may not reach record-breaking Grand Slam target

US Open
Serena Williams

Mats Wilander believes Serena Williams is running out of time to claim a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, as he suggests the veteran American needs to win next week’s US Open to keep her chase for history on track.

Since clinching an Open era record 23rd major at the 2017 Australian Open, the former top-ranked American has failed to clear the final hurdle after several near misses in Grand Slam finals.

Now seven-time major champion and Eurosport expert Wilander has suggested 38-year-old Williams faces a battle to fend off a new generation of stars who are shooting her down with increasing regularity.

Bianca Andreescu and Serena Williams US Open

“If Serena Williams doesn’t win this one, I am starting to worry that she might not in her own mind think she has a chance to win another one somewhere else,” said Eurosport analyst Wilander.

“If she loses this time, I would think people, and more specifically she herself, would most probably doubt that she can win another one. It’s going to be harder to win the next one and the one after that if she keeps coming up short.

“On the other hand, if she can win this one, I think it will give her some confidence that she can go on and win a couple more but if she doesn’t win this one when only three or four out of the top ten are there, I think that will be a blow to her.

“Maybe the absence of a crowd helps her. They are pulling so much for her that I think she gets caught up in the whole historical thing and maybe this is a chance for her to walk around with her baby in a stroller in the grounds of the US Open, can you imagine that? There’s no way she could do that, now she can do that.

“When you look at how the crowd has affected her in the last few finals, it hasn’t been positive at all. So, maybe this is a perfect situation for Serena.”

Mats Wilander picks his US Open dark horses that features two young Canadian stars

Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep are among the big-name stars missing the US Open as they did not want to travel to New York amid the Covid-19 crisis and Wilander admits it is a blow to the event.

“I think we are all disappointed that the best players are not playing, of course we are, but I think we are more disappointed for them. I am more disappointed for them rather than for the tournament,” he conceded.

“I feel sad for the players who were not able to make the trip because I really think it’s more about that they were not able to make the trip rather than a choice, I don’t think there was really a choice.

“I think the choice was made for them, whether that is because of the French Open and they didn’t want to travel or they have older people in their family that they hang out with all the time, I think the choice was pretty clear to the people that did not go and I feel sorry for them.”

The US Open from Flushing Meadows in New York will be screened on Eurosport across Europe in over 50 countries and territories, except the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Follow Kevin Palmer on Twitter @RealKevinPalmer

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