‘Does Serena still have the same fire in her belly?’ questions former champion

Serena Williams can never be written off because she’s so special but does she have the same fire in her belly questions Justine Henin ahead of Roland Garros.

Williams holds the Open Era record winning 23 Grand Slam singles titles and has had an illustrious tennis career spanning four decades.

The American took a break from tennis in 2017 to have her daughter and since returning to the sport, she has reached four Grand Slam finals but never been able to clinch that 24th title which would put her joint all-time Grand Slam record holder with Margaret Court.

After a disappointing 2021 season so far, Serena goes into Roland Garros with very little competitive tennis under her belt.

Although she reached the Australian Open semi-finals, her clay preparation has been minimal losing in her first match in Rome and her second match in Palma.

However, Henin, a seven-time Grand Slam champion herself, believes Serena has proven before that she can still play great tennis despite challenges.

“As she is Serena Williams, I can never close the door and say ‘no, she will never make it’ because she is so special and she has proved it so many times in the past,” Henin told Sky Sports.

“We have to keep in mind that she has been so consistent, even after having a little girl. She didn’t win a Grand Slam but she’s been in the final of four Slams and she was in the semi-finals of the US Open last year and Australian Open this year, so she’s still there.”

Although her ability is still clear for all to see, Henin does wonder if Serena’s focus on tennis is the same as it was pre-parenthood, and says the added pressure may be too much.

“Now to compete in seven matches over two weeks against some players, who are now from the top of the women’s game and for me are at another level, the pressure is much higher on her than it was a few years ago,” said Henin.

“I think it’s going to be really, really hard also because she is a mum now and emotionally she has changed. She still has that fire in her belly, but is it the same as it was before when there was only tennis in her life? That’s also a bit of a question.

“I think she wants to be there. She still has the passion but now she’s a mum, she has different things to deal with and that changes life. At nearly 40 to still be there, I admire her a lot, but it’s going to be tough,” she said of Serena.

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