All About the Big Ones

Serena Williams’ hunt for history hinges on regaining edge in one crucial area she once dominated.

Winning pivotal points.

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The 38-year-old Williams launches her quest for a record seventh US Open title to match Margaret Court’s all-time major record by winning her 24th Grand Slam title. After two straight US Open final setbacks, Serena says she’s still driven.

“I’ve been definitely proudly stuck here, party of one,” Serena said in her pre-tournament press conference. “I’m pretty happy about it. Obviously I’m never satisfied. That’s been the story of my career.

“So, yeah, it is what it is. I took a year and a half off for a baby. So I don’t know. It’s like I’ll never be satisfied until I retire. I’m never going to stop until I retire. It’s just my personality.”

The third-seeded Serena opens against Queens native Kristie Ahn, who reached the Flushing Meadows fourth-round last year. Williams could face a third-round clash vs. 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens, who has beaten her in a Slam before.

The former world No. 1 has not won a straight-sets match since she defeated Jelena Ostapenko in two tie break sets at the Fed Cup Qualifier in February and is bidding to snap a streak of four consecutive Grand Slam final losses.

Williams, who squandered a one-set, 5-3 lead losing to Maria Sakkari in the Western & Southern Open quarterfinals, says it’s all about winning big points.

“I’ve just got to start learning how to win big points,” Williams said. “It was literally one point since January. One point I could have won so many more matches, literally.

“So if I could just focus on how to win that one point, that would be better.”

During her pre US Open practice sessions, Serena and coach Patrick Mouratoglou have done some old-school hand-feeding drills to reinforce racquet-head speed on slower balls.

Photo credit: @CincyTennis Western & Southern Open

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