With four US Open titles already salted away, women’s top seed Serena Williams could be ready to coast psychologically at this year’s event.
But the world number one who was shocked last weekend with a finals loss in Cincinnati by second-ranked rival Victoria Azarenka says that while her competitive fires burn as strongly as ever, she still has the satisfaction that she has accomplished almost everything possible in the sport.
“I don’t need to do anything, that’s the beauty of my career,” said the 16-time grand slam winner as she prepared for a Monday start in the first round against former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone.
“I don’t need to do anything at all, everything I do from this day forward is a bonus,” said the 32-year-old 16-time grand slam champion.
“Everything for me is just extra.”
But at the same time, the chance to defend her New York title is also driving her current game after winning eight WTA titles this season.
Williams may now rightly be wary of Azarenka after her Cincinnati defeat while holding a lead in the final set of a roller-coaster match.
The Belarussian, now settled in the same Manhattan Beach Californian costal neighbourhood as Maria Sharapova – missing from the Open with a shoulder injury – and newly arrived resident Williams has won only three times in their 16 meetings.
But of the victories occurred this season, in Doha and Cincy in hardcourt finals.
Joining Williams on court Monday will be elder sister Venus, who faces a tough ask at age 33 against Belgian 12th seed Kirsten Flipkens.
Polish third seed Agnieszka Radwanska plays Silvia Soler-Espinosa while China’s Li Na starts against Olga Govortsova and young American Sloane Stephens, who knocked Williams out in the Australian Open quarters, plays Mandy Minella.