LONDON – Patrick Mouratoglou has steered Serena Williams to some of her greatest achievements, but the coach has never seen the American work as hard as she has to battle back from injury and illness in pursuit of a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title.
Williams will face unseeded late-bloomer Barbora Strycova on Thursday for a place in the Wimbledon final, having begun the tournament short on match practice and with question marks hanging over her prospects.
The 37-year-old had barely played since the Australian Open in January after a niggling knee injury limited her court time and the rust was all too visible as she began her campaign at the All England Club.
Yet, after suppressing tigerish American Alison Riske on Tuesday in the last eight, only Czech Strycova, the oldest first-time Grand Slam singles semi-finalist at 33, stands between Williams and another shot at Margaret Court's record 24 slams.
It is a number that has dominated Williams' late career, especially after she returned to the sport following the birth of her daughter in 2017 when she suffered a pulmonary embolism that left her bedridden for six weeks.