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Setbacks added fuel to Serena's desire to equal Graf

By Paul Newman

Published 11/07/2016

Victory roar: Serena Williams shows her delight after equalling Steffi Graf on 22 Grand Slam titles
Victory roar: Serena Williams shows her delight after equalling Steffi Graf on 22 Grand Slam titles
Serena Williams showing off the Wimbledon trophy with runner-up Angelique Kerber
Coach Patrick Mouratoglou watches his pupil on Centre Court

Patrick Mouratoglou, the coach of Serena Williams, knew that the World No.1 had put her disappointments of the last 10 months behind her well before the start of Wimbledon.

After last month's French Open, where she lost in the final to Garbine Muguruza, Williams returned to her home in Florida while Mouratoglou stayed in France.

For the third tournament in a row, the 34-year-old American had failed to secure the victory she needed to equal Steffi Graf's Open era record of 22 Grand Slam singles titles.

However, as thoughts turned to the challenges ahead, Mouratoglou and Williams remained in regular telephone contact.

"I was just talking through things, and how I was disappointed that I lost the French, and what I needed to do, to do better at Wimbledon," Williams recalled on Saturday evening in the wake of her 7-5 6-3 victory over Angelique Kerber, which secured her seventh Wimbledon title and finally brought her level with Graf's record.

"It wasn't one conversation. We talked so many times, almost every day, just to try to feel what I needed to do and what was going to be done."

As they talked, Mouratoglou sensed a change in her mindset. "I felt like the Serena I know was back - back to thinking the way she thinks," he said.

Williams recalled the day when Mouratoglou told her he had noticed the change.

"One day I woke up and I just felt different," she said. "I felt like: I can do better. I can do this. Not only can I do this, I'm going to do this and there's nothing in this world that's going to stop me."

She added: "I felt a relief. Maybe it was like: I'm not going to worry about anyone or anything. I'm just going to worry about tennis. I'm not going to worry about what people say or what people don't say. I'm just going to worry about tennis. I just felt good."

Williams needed four attempts to claim her 22nd Grand Slam title. After winning title No.21 at Wimbledon last summer, she was beaten by Roberta Vinci in the semi-finals of the US Open in September, after which she stayed off court for the rest of the year.

She then lost this year to Kerber and Muguruza in the finals of the Australian and French Opens respectively.

In the wake of those defeats, Williams had some sleepless nights. "I really go over things and try to meditate and see what I can do better," she said.

"I'm really someone who is always looking to do better, no matter what. So I'm obviously thinking: 'OK, what did I do wrong? Where did I go wrong?'"

Williams said it had been particularly difficult for her in the period after the US Open, where she had been on course to win a calendar-year Grand Slam of the sport's four Major trophies.

"I was going for something really historic and it didn't quite work out," she said. "What really was impressive was being able to come back and be so consistent time in and time out.

"With the finals of Australia, France, even the final of Indian Wells and winning Rome, it was really consistent tennis. I didn't get the results I wanted in the end, but it was really good to continue to do that and that obviously helped me with this win."

She added: "For me it has been a tough year but I think only I would classify it like that. I had a lot of good wins and played really well.

"There were moments where I wasn't where I wanted to be, but I was able to learn from that and have that help me out."

Andy Murray and his wife Kim arriving at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner 2016, at the Guildhall, London. Pic: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Andy Murray and his wife Kim arriving at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner 2016, at the Guildhall, London. Pic: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Andy Murray of Great Britain lifts the trophy following victory in the Men's Singles Final against Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Supporters watch on from Murray Mound as Andy Murray of Great Britain and Milos Raonic of Canada are in action during the Men's Singles Final on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Andy Murray of Great Britain holds the trophy following victory in the Men's Singles Final against Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Andy Murray of Great Britain ifts the trophy following victory in the Men's Singles Final against Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Andy Couldridge-Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Hugh Grant watches on during the Men's Singles Final match between Andy Murray of Great Britain and Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Andy Murray of Great Britain holds the trophy following victory in the Men's Singles Final against Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Andy Couldridge-Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Andy Murray of Great Britain holds the trophy following victory in the Men's Singles Final against Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Andy Couldridge-Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Andy Murray of Great Britain holds the trophy following victory in the Men's Singles Final against Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Andy Couldridge-Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: (EDITORS NOTE: A graduated filter was used on this image) A general view of Centre Court prior to the Men's Singles Final between Andy Murray of Great Britain and Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Andy Murray of Great Britain holds the trophy following victory in the Men's Singles Final against Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Andy Couldridge-Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: (EDITORS NOTE: A graduated filter was used on this image) A general view of Centre Court prior to the Men's Singles Final between Andy Murray of Great Britain and Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates victory during the Men's Singles Final against Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Andy Murray of Great Britain holds the trophy following victory in the Men's Singles Final against Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
2016 Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray during a press conference on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Florian Eisele/POOL/AELTC/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use without prior written consent of the AELTC. Still image use only - no moving images to emulate broadcast. No superimposing or removal of sponsor/ad logos. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Britain's Andy Murray poses with the winner's trophy after his men's singles final victory over Canada's Milos Raonic on the last day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / POOL AND AFP PHOTO / John WALTON / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEJOHN WALTON/AFP/Getty Images
Britain's Andy Murray gives a press conference after winning the men's singles final during the 2016 Wimbledon Championships tennis tournament at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / AELTC / Florian EISELE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEFLORIAN EISELE/AFP/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Andy Murray of Great Britain speaks to the media following victory in the Men's Singles Final against Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Andy Murray of Great Britain speaks to the media following victory in the Men's Singles Final against Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Andy Murray of Great Britain lifts the trophy from the members balcony infront of supporters following victory in the Men's Singles Final against Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Andy Murray of Great Britain lifts the trophy from the members balcony infront of supporters following victory in the Men's Singles Final against Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Andy Murray of Great Britain lifts the trophy from the members balcony infront of supporters following victory in the Men's Singles Final against Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Andy Murray of Great Britain lifts the trophy from the members balcony infront of supporters following victory in the Men's Singles Final against Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Spectators take pictures as Andy Murray kisses the trophy after beating Milos Raonic in the men's singles final on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use without prior written consent of the AELTC. Still image use only - no moving images to emulate broadcast. No superimposing or removal of sponsor/ad logos. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Andy Murray of Great Britain plays a backhand during the Men's Singles Final against Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates victory during the Men's Singles Final against Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
Tim Henman arriving at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner 2016, at the Guildhall, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Andy Murray claimed his second Wimbledon title after beating Milos Raonic in three sets. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Anastasia Potapova arriving at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner 2016, at the Guildhall, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Andy Murray claimed his second Wimbledon title after beating Milos Raonic in three sets. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 10: Andy Murray of Great Britain lifts the trophy following victory in the Men's Singles Final against Milos Raonic of Canada on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
arriving at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner 2016, at the Guildhall, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Andy Murray claimed his second Wimbledon title after beating Milos Raonic in three sets. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Serena Williams arriving at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner 2016, at the Guildhall, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Andy Murray claimed his second Wimbledon title after beating Milos Raonic in three sets. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Serena Williams arriving at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner 2016, at the Guildhall, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Andy Murray claimed his second Wimbledon title after beating Milos Raonic in three sets. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Andy Murray and his wife Kim arriving at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner 2016, at the Guildhall, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Andy Murray claimed his second Wimbledon title after beating Milos Raonic in three sets. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Andy Murray and his wife Kim arriving at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner 2016, at the Guildhall, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Andy Murray claimed his second Wimbledon title after beating Milos Raonic in three sets. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Andy Murray and his wife Kim arriving at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner 2016, at the Guildhall, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Andy Murray claimed his second Wimbledon title after beating Milos Raonic in three sets. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
SOUTHAMPTON, NY - JULY 10: Tony Robbins speaks before the DuJour Media's Jason Binn, Leslie Farrand and Fiona Murray hosted Screening and After-Party at Parrish Art Museum Celebrating Director Joe Berlinger's "Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru" on July 10, 2016 in Southampton, New York. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images for DuJour)
SOUTHAMPTON, NY - JULY 10: Tony Robbins and CEO of DuJour Media Jason Binn speak before the DuJour Media's Jason Binn, Leslie Farrand and Fiona Murray hosted Screening and After-Party at Parrish Art Museum Celebrating Director Joe Berlinger's "Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru" on July 10, 2016 in Southampton, New York. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images for DuJour)
Serena Williams arriving at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner 2016, at the Guildhall, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Andy Murray claimed his second Wimbledon title after beating Milos Raonic in three sets. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Andy Murray and his wife Kim arriving at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner 2016, at the Guildhall, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Andy Murray claimed his second Wimbledon title after beating Milos Raonic in three sets. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Andy Murray and his wife Kim arriving at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner 2016, at the Guildhall, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Andy Murray claimed his second Wimbledon title after beating Milos Raonic in three sets. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Heather Watson arriving at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner 2016, at the Guildhall, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Andy Murray claimed his second Wimbledon title after beating Milos Raonic in three sets. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Heather Watson arriving at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner 2016, at the Guildhall, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Andy Murray claimed his second Wimbledon title after beating Milos Raonic in three sets. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Heather Watson arriving at the Wimbledon Champions Dinner 2016, at the Guildhall, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Andy Murray claimed his second Wimbledon title after beating Milos Raonic in three sets. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Screen grab taken from the Instagram account of Andy Murray which features a photo of him holding the Wimbledon trophy whilst having an ice bath after beating Milos Raonic in three sets. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday July 11, 2016. Andy Murray vowed to enjoy his second Wimbledon triumph after being crowned the king of Centre Court once again. See PA story WIMBLEDON Men. Photo credit should read: andymurray/Instagram/Press Association Images NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
TOPSHOT - Britain's Andy Murray wins a point against Canada's Milos Raonic during the men's singles final match on the last day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEGLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Britain's Andy Murray celebrates beating Canada's Milos Raonic during the men's singles final match on the last day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USELEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Britain's Andy Murray reacts while playing Canada's Milos Raonic during the men's singles final match on the last day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Andrew COULDRIDGE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDREW COULDRIDGE/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Britain's Andy Murray celebrates beating Canada's Milos Raonic after the men's singles final match on the last day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEGLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Britain's Andy Murray poses with the winner's trophy after his men's singles final victory over Canada's Milos Raonic on the last day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEGLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Britain's Andy Murray poses with the winner's trophy after his men's singles final victory over Canada's Milos Raonic on the last day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / POOL AND AFP PHOTO / Andrew COULDRIDGE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDREW COULDRIDGE/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Britain's Andy Murray poses with the winner's trophy after his men's singles final victory over Canada's Milos Raonic on the last day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEGLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Britain's Andy Murray kisses the winner's trophy after his men's singles final victory over Canada's Milos Raonic on the last day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USELEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Britain's Andy Murray celebrates beating Canada's Milos Raonic after the men's singles final match on the last day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEGLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Britain's Andy Murray celebrates beating Canada's Milos Raonic during the men's singles final match on the last day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USELEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Britain's Andy Murray kisses the winner's trophy after his men's singles final victory over Canada's Milos Raonic on the last day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Andrew COULDRIDGE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEANDREW COULDRIDGE/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Canada's Milos Raonic returns to Britain's Andy Murray during the men's singles final match on the last day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USELEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Britain's Andy Murray poses with the winner's trophy on the clubhouse balcony after his men's singles final victory over Canada's Milos Raonic on the last day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 10, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images

Asked if she had learned anything about herself in the last year, Williams said: "I have always known that I was a big fighter and never gave up, but I think I've really put it on display the last 12 months.

"Just really not letting anything stop me or get me down, or letting a loss prevent me from continuing on. It just shows a lot of tenacity."

Now that Graf's record has been matched, the next goal in Williams' sights could be Margaret Court's all-time mark of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. While Williams insists that she has learned not to get obsessed by the pursuit of records, she said it was not in her nature to take things easy on the court.

"I think the pressure can be off when I decide to put away my rackets," she said. "I think the pressure I put on myself is more than anyone.

"I put so much expectation on myself. I expect to win every time I step out on the court. Anything less is unacceptable for me. I think that's just rare and it's different. It's me and it's why I have 22 titles."

What of the immediate future?

"I'm just thinking that obviously the Olympics is next, then the US Open," she said. "But that's as far as I'm thinking. I don't know.

"When I go out there I just enjoy it. I'm obviously looking forward to going back to Australia. It's one of my favourite places to go. Just enjoy the moment."

Belfast Telegraph

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