Serena Williams can ‘absolutely’ break Court’s Grand Slam record, says tennis legend Graf

Serena Williams won this year’s Australian Open while pregnant. (AFP)
Updated 05 November 2017
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Serena Williams can ‘absolutely’ break Court’s Grand Slam record, says tennis legend Graf

ZHUHAI, China: Tennis legend Steffi Graf said Sunday that Serena Williams can “absolutely” break Margaret Court’s Grand Slam singles title record if she returns to tennis.
Former world number one Serena Williams, who gave birth earlier this year, has already overtaken Graf with 23 Grand Slam wins but is yet to surpass Court, who boasts 24 major titles.
“Absolutely, yes,” Graf said when asked if the record was within Williams’ reach.
Court is renowned as the most successful player in Grand Slam history — the only player to win 10 or more titles of a single Slam — lifting the Australian Open a staggering 11 times between 1960 and 1973.
Graf, who also has 22 Grand Slam singles titles under her belt and is famed for having spent 377 weeks ranked world number one, was speaking in Zhuhai, China, where she is ambassador for the WTA Elite Trophy tournament.
“A lot of it is determined on her drive and if that’s what she wants to do,” she said of Williams.
Australian Open organizers said in October they were hopeful of a stunning return by Williams in January as they raised the winners’ prize money to a bumper A$4 million.
Williams won this year’s Australian Open while pregnant, and she has spoken of her “outrageous” plans to play in Melbourne in 2018 — just four-and-a-half months after giving birth to her baby girl.
“It sounds from what I hear that she’s looking to come back to tennis,” Graf added.
“You know, everything that she has shown over her career just makes you believe that if she has that in her sights then she will go after it and achieve it.”
The $2 million Elite Trophy features 12 players ranked from around nine to 20.
This week saw US Open winner Sloane Stephens crash out of the tournament in the round robin stage after losing her first match to Latvian Anastasija Sevastova and retiring from her second to Czech Barbora Strycova after just five games.
America’s CoCo. Vandeweghe is set to face Germany’s Julia Goerges in the final on Sunday.


‘Not impossible’ that Formula E will overtake F1, says Felipe Massa ahead of Ad Diriyah race

Updated 15 December 2018
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‘Not impossible’ that Formula E will overtake F1, says Felipe Massa ahead of Ad Diriyah race

LONDON: Felipe Massa has acknowledged the possibility of Formula E becoming more popular than its more illustrious rival Formula One, ahead of his debut at the Ad Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia today.
The Brazilian ace swapped the roaring engines of F1 for the blistering battery power of Formula E this season, and told Arab News that the idea was not “impossible.”
“On overtaking, Formula 1, that’s a difficult question to answer. But what can I say, is that it’s not impossible. We just need to wait and see how things go, (whether) it is ‘when’ or ‘if,’ but it’s definitely not impossible,” he said.
“Formula E and electric cars are becoming ever-more present, but it will definitely be the future, even in the short-term future.
“It (the technology) has already arrived in some countries and will in other countries, too, it is the future. I think Formula E has used that mentality, even five years ago to build this (motorsport) category,” he added.
Massa, who raced for 15 seasons in Formula One and won 11 grands prix, was also positive about the potential of Formula E as it continues to expand after its inception in 2011 and inaugural season in 2014.
“It will take a little bit of time, it’s not easy to get things perfect straight away, but look at the past two years and how much the championship is growing.
“When I say growing, it’s not just with the quality of the drivers, but also with manufacturers’ teams and companies, who are really getting behind the sport.
“Look how many companies they are signing on as sponsors, on many different levels, even companies that sell fuel,” he said.
“We are even racing (this weekend) in a country known as an oil country. So, I think this shows how much this championship is growing.”
Massa also agreed with comments made by F1 director Ross Brawn, who recently said that the highest level of motorsport had become too predictable.
“Only certain racers can win in Formula One, but Formula E is unpredictable and a good example (of that) is that the winners in all past seasons have been different drivers,” he told Arab News.
The affable driver said he is relishing the new challenge that Formula E will pose to his skills and abilities, adding that with the exception of certain parts of the Monaco and Mexico circuits, each track will be new to him.
“I like a challenge, there is a lot to learn and a lot to test myself with and learning the car, working with the team,” he said.
“Even though I’m experienced in motorsport, with my 16 years in Formula One, this is a new test and I will have to start from zero.”
Meanwhile, defending Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne said hearing the words “world champion” after his name was “still cool.”
When asked about the challenge from teammate Andre Lotterer on the other side of the Techeetah garage, the Frenchman was full of praise for the German driver.
“He is absolutely one of the most talented drivers, and I expect him to be on the same level as I am and, for sure, it’s going to be a nice competition between us.
“It will be good for the team, as that will push everybody, and that is what we want as a team.”
The former F1 driver was complimentary about Formula E’s new “attack mode,” but voiced concerns about the danger the system posed to drivers on corners on the challenging Ad Diriyah circuit this weekend.