Serena to play fewer events

The National - News - Sport - - LEADING OFF -

MEL­BOURNE // Serena Wil­liams plans to play fewer tour­na­ments in the fu­ture to aid her quest to win more grand slam ti­tles, ac­cord­ing to coach Pa­trick Mouratoglou. The Amer­i­can, 35, won her 23rd grand slam ti­tle on Satur­day at the Aus­tralian Open, break­ing the open-era record she held jointly with Ger­many’s St­effi Graf. Wil­liams will now man­age her sched­ule as she chases down the all-time leader Mar­garet Court, the Aus­tralian whose record of 24 grand slam ti­tles strad­dled the am­a­teur and pro­fes­sional eras.

Wil­liams played just eight events in 2016 and did not play af­ter Septem­ber fol­low­ing her exit from the semi-fi­nals of the US Open.

“Men­tally she has to stay fresh and men­tally ex­cited when the grand slams start, be­cause they are the goal,” Mouratoglou said af­ter Serena’s 6-4, 6-4 vic­tory over her sis­ter Venus gave her a sev­enth Aus­tralian Open ti­tle. “So we have a lighter sched­ule.”

At one stage in 2016, Wil­liams held the world No 1 rank­ing based only on seven events over a 52-week pe­riod.

Ger­many’s An­gelique Ker­ber over­took her when she won the US Open last Septem­ber but Wil­liams will re­turn to top spot when the rank­ings are up­dated to­day.

Wil­liams has tra­di­tion­ally played fewer tour­na­ments than most top play­ers, but since she usu­ally reaches the fi­nal, she is able to pick and choose. “We’ve al­ready done the sched­ule for the whole year,” Mouratoglou said. “It doesn’t mean that the sched­ule is not go­ing to change, it’s meant to adapt to sit­u­a­tions. But gen­er­ally speak­ing it’s al­ready set.”

Mouratoglou added that Wil­liams would not ob­sess over the record of 24 held by Court.

“With re­spect to Mar­garet, it was an­other era and they were not pro­fes­sion­als,” he said. “The record is here and we want to beat it, but there was a pro­fes­sional era and the record was St­effi Graf.”

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