Serena Williams says that she “absolutely wants” more Grand Slam titles, but does not need them.
The 23-time champion, already the most successful player of the Open era, is two Grand Slam titles away from surpassing Margaret Court’s record.
Williams, who said she was bedridden for six weeks after giving birth to daughter Olympia in September, said motherhood had taken away her anxiety.
“I don’t need the money or the titles or the prestige,” Williams told Vogue.
“I think having a baby might help. When I’m too anxious I lose matches, and I feel like a lot of that anxiety disappeared when Olympia was born.
“Maybe this goes without saying, but it needs to be said in a powerful way: I absolutely want more grand slams.”
In a wide-ranging interview, Williams discussed:
- The “low” moments of becoming a mother;
- Her on-court rivalry with older sister Venus;
- How she wants to teach her daughter not to “limit” herself
‘No-one talks about the low moments’
Williams told the American magazine that “everything went bad” in the aftermath of giving birth to her first child.
Her daughter was delivered by emergency Caesarean section after the baby’s heart rate dropped, and Williams fell ill the day after giving birth.
The American suffered several blood clots in her lung and her surgery wound re-opened, leaving her bed bound for six weeks.
Williams played an exhibition match in December, which was her first since giving birth, and forced the game against French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko into a tie-break.
On the difficulties of motherhood, Williams said: “Sometimes I get really down and feel like, ‘man, I can’t do this’. It is that same negative attitude I have on the court sometimes.
“I guess that’s just who I am. No one talks about the low moments – the pressure you feel, the incredible letdown every time you hear the baby cry.
“I’ve broken down I don’t know how many times, or I’ll get angry about the crying, then sad about being angry, and then guilty. The emotions are insane.”
Williams also said that since having her daughter she had changed her perspective on tennis.
“I want titles but I don’t need them. That’s a different feeling for me,” she added.
‘Venus’ face breaks my heart when we play’
Williams beat older sister Venus to claim her 23rd Grand Slam title in January 2017 – the 17th time she had defeated her sister in 28 meetings.
Venus initially had the better of the rivalry but since 2009 she has beaten her sister just twice, winning their quarter-final in Dubai that year and then winning against Serena in three sets at the Rogers Cup in 2014.
“I hate playing Venus because she gets this look on her face where she just looks sad if she’s losing. Solemn. It breaks my heart,” Williams said.
“When I play her now, I absolutely don’t look at her, because if she gets that look, then I’ll start feeling bad, and the next thing you know I’ll be losing.
“I think that’s when the turning point came in our rivalry – when I stopped looking at her.”
‘I think sometimes women limit themselves’
Williams returned to number one in the world after winning the Australian Open, but has slipped to 23rd in her absence from the tour.
Romania’s Simona Halep is currently the top-ranked player, and Williams said she had received messages of support from fellow players, as well as gifts for her daughter.
“There hasn’t been a clear number one since I was there. It will be cool to see if I get there again, to what I call my spot – where I feel I belong,” she said.
Williams added that she would not push her daughter into tennis, but would each her that “there are no limits” to what she can do.
“I think sometimes women limit themselves. I’m not sure why we think that way,” Williams added.
“I know that we’re sometimes taught to not dream as big as men, taught not to believe we can be a president, when in the same household, a male child is told he can be anything he wants.
“I’m so glad I had a daughter. I want to teach her that there are no limits.”