Wimbledon | Williams set to be second champion Mum
SERENA Williams would prove the only other Wimbledon-winning mum in the open era wrong if she lifts her eighth title on Centre Court on Saturday.
Williams, 36, takes on German Angelique Kerber bidding for her eighth London SW19 crown.
But Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who won the 1980 All England title after becoming a parent, feels the American returned too soon after giving birth to her first daughter Olympia last September.
Believe me, I know she wants to go out there and win. So do I. I think it will be just like the last final, it will be a really good final. Hopefully it will be a good result. Serena Williams
Goolagong Cawley, with daughter Kelly, witnessed Williams lose at the French Open.
The former Australian ace said: “About three months after I had Kelly (when she was 26), I went and played in Canada. I felt great, I was ready to go and I was very energetic.
“But as soon as I started playing, I thought ‘no, too soon’. I went back home and slept for two days. So my body wasn’t ready for matches.
“I realised that she went back too soon before and her body’s not sort of conditioned to playing matches, just like me.
“But she is a bit older too, so maybe she needed to take a little bit more time before she came back to playing tournaments.”
Goolagong Cawley, talking to Australian Associated Press, added: “She’s a true champion. Now I wish her all the best because she’s a fantastic player. It’s wonderful being a mother playing anyway.”
Judy Murray, mother of British tennis superstars Andy and Jamie, fears tiredness might be a factor for Williams in a re-match of their 2016 final, won by Serena.
Murray said: “We should never take it for granted when she’s played so little since having a baby.
“She has vast experience and the most incredible track record but she’s not played a lot since coming back and the further you go the more you accumulate fatigue.”
Talking to the London Standard, she added: “She is just this huge star – it would be wonderful if she could go all the way.”
Victory would enable Williams to equal the Grand Slam-winning record of Margaret Court, a compatriot of Goolagong Cawley, of 24.
Williams said: “To be perfectly honest, I haven’t thought about that this tournament. Not even once actually.
“I feel like Angelique’s been playing really well. A lot of people haven’t been, I don’t think in beginning of the tournament, looking at her. I think grass is her best surface.
“She plays so well here. She knows how to play on this court. She does it well. It’s her second final. That’s wildly impressive. Believe me, I know she wants to go out there and win. So do I. I think it will be just like the last final, it will be a really good final. Hopefully it will be a good result.”
Kerber hopes she can repeat her 2016 Australian Open win final over Williams and become the first German to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish since Steffi Graff 22 years ago.
The 30-year-old seeded 11 said: “Serena is one of the best players in the world. We had so many great matches in the last years. To seeing her back, it’s great. I know that she is always pushing you to the limits to play your best tennis. This is the only chance to beat her.”
Kerber played down the support Williams will receive with her friend Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, in the Royal Box
She said: “Of course it is always an honour, first of all, to be playing on the Centre Court with the Royal Box, all the guests sitting there. I’m trying when I’m on court to not look there. I’m trying to focus on my team and my box, trying to focus on the tennis. For sure it’s really special, especially if it’s the final here. I know it will be full house there. The atmosphere will be amazing. So, I’m looking forward to have the feeling again.
“And I can’t say it’s the one I’m most proud of. I can’t say it’s not. I’m so in a zone in terms of just wanting to keep playing. Being here and having an opportunity to play is super great for me. But I don’t know. I can’t really say because I’m still in the moment. Hopefully I can answer that better after the final. Win or lose, it will be nice to answer that better.”