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Serena Williams backed to play into 40s as she chases Grand Slam record

Mirror Uk

SERENA Williams has been backed to play on into her 40s as she chases down Margaret Court’s Grand Slam tennis record.

The American, who turned 38 on Thursday, has 23 major titles to her name and needs just one more to tie level with the Australian great.

Williams missed out on the chance to move alongside Court after going down in straight sets to Canadian Bianca Andreescu at the US Open — her fourth successive defeat in Slam finals since giving birth to her daughter Alexis two years ago.

However, Williams shows no signs of throwing in the towel and her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, insists she is hungrier than ever.

When asked if she could play into her forties, he replied: “If she wants, she can.

“If she feels she can still win Grand Slams I think she will keep playing.

“She’s in better condition than she was a couple of years ago. She’s still an unbelievable athlete and can still compete — she reached the final of her last four Grand Slams — so she doesn’t need to prove anything.

“She doesn’t play to be there, she plays to win. If she doesn’t feel she can win Grand Slams, she’s out of tennis.

“She’s still hungry. She hasn’t changed. She’s an incredible competitor and when she plays a tournament she wants to win.”

The coach was speaking at the launch of a partnership between Asics and the Mouratoglou Academy in the south of France.

Coco Gauff is the latest star off the production line at the world-class facility, following in the footsteps of the likes of Marcos Baghdatis and Grigor Dimitrov.

The 15-year-old burst onto the scene at Wimbledon earlier this year, beating Venus Williams on her way to the fourth round.

She followed that up by reaching the third round at Flushing Meadows before bowing out to then world No.1 Naomi Osaka.

Mouratoglou is hopeful Gauff can build on her storming start to life on the pro circuit and believes she has the potential to be a future champion after first clapping eyes on her as a 10-year-old.

He added: “I thought she was amazing. She was a great competitor and mentally she was on a different level.

I remember at 10 years old how driven she was and confident in her ability to become a champion. She had a different mindset.

“I was not surprised [how well she done at Wimbledon]. In her mind she was going to win the tournament.

“She then came to the US Open with the media treatment of a top player in the world. She coped well with the pressure.

“She’s young and still learning. She wants to do the best she can do – when she competes she wants to win.

“I think she’s going to make a great career.

— Mirror (UK)

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