Serena Williams shrugs off pressure of Steffi Graf’s record

Serena Williams reacts during her match against Amra Sadikovic
Serena Williams reacts during her match against Amra Sadikovic

Defending Wimbledon champion Serena Williams has insisted she is not burdened by the pressure of chasing a 22nd grand slam title to emulate Steffi Graf.

Williams swept past Amra Sadikovic 6-2 6-4 at Wimbledon on Tuesday, to book a second-round clash with fellow American Christina McHale.

The 34-year-old has stalled on 21 major titles since claiming her sixth crown at SW19 last year, but remains bullish about her chances of drawing level with Graf’s open-era record.

“I think more or less about winning Australia, I think about winning the French Open; didn’t happen,” said Williams.

“I think about winning Wimbledon. I don’t necessarily think about winning 22.

“Mentally I’ve been further down than anyone can be. Well, maybe not anyone, but I’ve been pretty low.

“There’s nothing that’s mentally too hard for me.”

Williams eased to her 80th career victory at Wimbledon to open Tuesday’s Centre Court programme, in a straight-sets win where she was rarely troubled by the world number 148.

The top seed then rejected any notion of struggling under the weight of expectation or grand slam pressure in that continued bid to catch Graf.

“Obviously it means a lot to me, probably means more to me than to anyone, anyone,” said Williams, talking about her determination to continue winning major titles.

“It’s definitely something you just have to deal with.

“It’s coming to a way that you deal with it. It’s ‘how are you going to deal with it’?

“For me it’s dealing with it the best that I can and getting on wkith my tennis.

“I love it here and I am enjoying it,” she added.