Serena Williams is not feeling the pressure as she bids to complete her grand slam set this year by winning the US Open.
Victory at Flushing Meadows would see Williams, who has already triumphed at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon in 2015, become the first female player to complete a calendar slam since Steffi Graf in 1988.
It would make the American the fourth woman in history to achieve the feat while also bringing her level with Graf’s total of 22 grand slam titles and two short of Margaret Court’s all-time best 24.
Williams’ US Open campaign begins against Russian Vitalia Diatchenko and the 33-year-old says insists she has not been affected by the hype. ‘I don’t feel that fresh pressure,’ Williams said. If I make it far, maybe I’ll start to feel pressure, but as of now, I really don’t feel any. I’m just here to perform and to do the best I can.’
Williams added: ‘I always feel there’s another record, then there’s always another person to catch up with or to pass. I never really thought I would be in this position where I would even be talking about records, passing Steffi Graf or even mentioning Margaret Court. I just grew up trying to be the best I could and do the best I could. I worked really hard for everything so to even be mentioned in that conversation is great.’
Williams beat Spain’s Garbine Muguruza in the Wimbledon final, having overcome Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, her sister Venus, and Britain’s Heather Watson in the earlier rounds at the All England Club. A surprise defeat in Toronto to talented Swiss Belinda Bencic raised eyebrows earlier this month but Williams returned to form by winning the Cincinnati title last week.
‘Wimbledon gave me unbelievable practice for this,’ Williams added. ‘At Wimbledon I was going for the second Serena Slam (holding all four grand slam titles at the same time). That is rare. So that really gave me the best practice and preparation in terms of going for the Grand Slam.’