TENNIS: Greatest of all time?
Serena Williams believes she and other top female tennis names are "leading the conversation".
Names like men's finalist and 17-time grand slam winner Roger Federer and Australian legend Rod Laver are often thrown up, but Williams (pictured) - who won her 23rd grand slam title at the Australian Open on Saturday night - said that she, Martina Navratilova (18 grand slams) and Steffi Graf (22) all deserve to be top of the discussion.
"I definitely think so," she said. "I mean, between Martina, myself, Steffi Graf, hands down we are leading that conversation.
"Just one thing about a champion, they keep fighting, they keep going. I just feel like those four (including Chris Evert) really are incredible fighters. They're mentally tough as well. They always kept going.
"It's something that I learned from them a lot, is how to hopefully do the same, which hopefully I've been able to do."
Williams has regained the No.1 ranking - a mantle she first held in 2002 - but said she had been unaware of the achievement until an on-court announcement following her 6-4 6-4 win over sister Venus.
"That was a bonus. I didn't know actually," she said.
"It feels good. I like being on top, so I really like that feeling.
"In the beginning of the tournament, I was like (to my coach Patrick Mouratoglou), 'if I win, will I be No.1?'.
"He said, 'no, no, no'. I was like, 'whatever'.
"Today on the court when they were like, 'and No.1', I was like, 'whoa, really?'."
Williams said there was "no better place" to reach the milestone of 23 grand slams - which puts her just one behind all-time record holder Margaret Court - than Melbourne, and no one better to share it with than her older sister.
"My first grand slam started here, and getting to 23 here, but playing Venus, it's stuff that legends are made of," she said.
"I couldn't have written a better story.
"I just feel like it was the right moment. Everything kind of happened. It hasn't quite set in yet, but it's really good."
She revealed that there was an added bonus to lifting the trophy at the Australian Open, as it's the only grand slam that allows you to party like a winner.
With a few months before the French Open, the American intends to enjoy her triumph.
"That's one thing I've learnt from the past - you have to enjoy it," she said. "That's the beauty of Australia. You have a few months to relax. If you win the French it's like back to back to back, but Australia you have time to enjoy the moment before the next grand slam."
WOMEN'S ALL-TIME GRAND SLAM TITLE LEADERBOARD:
24: Margaret Court (AUS)
23: Serena Williams (USA)
22: Steffi Graf (GER)
19: Helen Wills Moody (USA)
18: Martina Navratilova (USA), Chris Evert (USA)
12: Billie Jean King (USA)
9: Maureen Connolly (USA), Monica Seles (USA)
8: Suzanne Lenglen (FRA), Molla Bjurstedt (NOR)
7: Evonne Goolagong Cawley (AUS), Justine Henin (BEL), Venus Williams (USA), Dorothea Lambert Chambers (GBR), Maria Bueno (BRA)
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