Her record of 23 grand slam singles titles in the Open era stands alone but Williams’s tennis legacy goes far beyond statistics
Seven years ago, as Serena Williams continued to consolidate her career records and her claims as the greatest of all time, a reporter asked her to identify the all-time record in her sights. Williams had 19 grand slam titles back then, just past the marker of 18 set by Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. She sighed deeply, but she was smiling: “Stefanie Graf has it, she has ,” she said, without hesitation. “It’s there, I can see it, just because you can see it doesn’t mean you can reach it.”
Williams will play out the final tournaments of her career in the coming weeks after announcing in Vogue on Tuesday her imminent retirement at 40 and, for the record, she did achieve the ultimate goal she had set for herself then. At the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant with her daughter, Alexis Olympia, Williams surpassed Graf to secure the Open-era record of a 23rd grand slam title.