Serena Williams can be a major contender for the French Open, believes coach Patrick Mouratoglou | Tennis News

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Serena Williams has not been seen on a match court since pulling out of the Miami Open following dental surgery; The American 23-time Grand Slam champion will shortly head to Patrick Mouratoglou’s academy in Nice to step up her preparations for the clay-court season

Last Updated: 01/04/21 3:48pm

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Coach Patrick Mouratoglou (left) has backed Serena Williams to win a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam (Photo by Shirley Kwok / Pacific Press)

Coach Patrick Mouratoglou (left) has backed Serena Williams to win a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam (Photo by Shirley Kwok / Pacific Press)

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Coach Patrick Mouratoglou has backed Serena Williams to end her Grand Slam drought.

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Mouratoglou believes the 39-year-old is even fitter now than she was at the Australia Open and is looking to continue that work during the build-up to Roland Garros, which begins on May 23.

The American fell just short again in her pursuit of a first Grand Slam crown for four years in Melbourne, losing to Naomi Osaka in the semi-finals, while her next chance comes in Paris.

Williams has not been beyond the fourth round at the French Open since returning to the sport in 2018 following the birth of daughter Olympia but she has twice been forced to withdraw through injury.

Williams made a tearful exit from the Australian Open, where she abruptly left her final press conference after a lingering wave to Rod Laver Arena

Williams made a tearful exit from the Australian Open, where she abruptly left her final press conference after a lingering wave to Rod Laver Arena

“She did a tremendous effort before the Australian Open and was very much in shape so this is something that we definitely want to keep and continue to improve because it’s a key, and it’s going to be even more a key on clay,” said Mouratoglou.

“I think she can really play very good on clay, she just has to be really very fit because on clay the serve is not as efficient and you have to work much more. Every rally is a fight. But I feel if she’s really, really ready, physically 100 per cent, then she can be very dangerous on clay as well.

“The level is high but I still believe that, when Serena is 100 per cent at the top of her physical form, she can win any Slam.”

Williams remains determined to equal Margaret Court's all-time Grand Slam record

Williams remains determined to equal Margaret Court’s all-time Grand Slam record

Williams has made no secret of how much she wants a 24th major title to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record, although she has played that down recently, and the challenge for Williams is to be able to bring her best when the trophy is in sight.

“There is clearly a hurdle that we need to pass but she’s been close so many times,” said Mouratoglou.

“You have to be as fit as possible, so that’s the plan, and of course mentally there is always this fight against pressure and against yourself, which is part of what tennis is about.”

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