Margaret Court has declared that Serena Williams has “never admired” her in a fiery new twist to the drama surrounding the tennis greats.
Williams took a pointed dig at Aussie tennis great Court when she announced her plans to walk away from tennis last month, bemoaning the fact that Court is widely considering the greatest player of all time.
Williams, who has 23 grand slam titles, made sure to point out that the majority of Court’s 24 majors came before the ‘Open era’ of tennis began in 1968.
In an exclusive interview with the UK Telegraph on Sunday, Court broke her long silence on the debate around herself and Williams.
“Serena, I’ve admired her as a player,” Court said. “But I don’t think she has ever admired me.”
Court won 11 of her 24 titles after 1968, with 13 of them coming before the grand slam tournaments agreed to allow professional players to compete alongside amateurs.
In the lead-up to the US Open, Williams made the bizarre claim that she has ‘already broken’ Court’s record despite the fact she remains one grand slam title behind.
“I’ve already broken the record,” she claimed.
“So I think it’s just someone else’s vision and mine is just to … I never dreamed of having this many grand slams or titles.
“I just thought I would just play tennis and maybe win a grand slam or two. So for me, it’s all a bonus.”
In an article for Vogue in which she revealed she will walk away from tennis, Williams said: “There are people who say I’m not the GOAT (greatest of all time) because I didn’t pass Court’s record, which she achieved before the ‘Open era’ that began in 1968.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that record. Obviously I do. But day to day, I’m really not thinking about her.
“If I’m in a slam final, then yes, I’m thinking about that record. Maybe I thought about it too much, and that didn’t help.”
On Sunday, Court declared that she believes Williams and players of the current generation actually have it easier than she did.
“I would love to have played in this era. I think it’s so much easier,” she said.
“How I would love to have taken family or friends along with me. But I couldn’t, I had to go on my own or with the national team.
“People don’t see all that. As amateurs, we had to play every week, because we didn’t have any money. Now, they can take off whenever they want, fly back whenever they want.
“We would be away for 10 months. That’s why I first retired in 1965, because I used to get homesick. You might be with the odd other person, but it’s not like having your family there.
“We didn’t have psychologists or coaches with us. It’s a whole different world. That’s what disappoints me; that players today don’t honour the past of the game.”
Margaret Court not happy she hasn’t been mentioned
Court also took exception to the fact that her name hasn’t been mentioned at the US Open during Williams’ farewell, with the American player constantly introduced as the ‘greatest player of all time’ before her matches.
“It’s very sad, because a lot of the press and television today, particularly in tennis, don’t want to mention my name,” she said.
“It’s only when they have to, because I still hold so many records.”
Williams won her 23rd grand slam at the Australian Open in 2017, but lost in four major finals with the chance to equal Court’s record.
She made the Wimbledon and US Open finals in both 2018 and 2019, but lost on all four occasions to leave her stranded on 23 titles.
“The way I see it, I should have had 30-plus grand slams,” Williams said last month.
“I had my chances after coming back from giving birth. I went from a C-section to a second pulmonary embolism to a grand slam final. I played while breastfeeding. I played through post-partum depression.
“But I didn’t get there. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. I didn’t show up the way I should have or could have.”