Shriver backs Serena to regain US Open title

Pam Shriver expects Serena Williams to heal the wounds of last year’s Flushing Meadows heartbreak by claiming a record-breaking 23rd grand slam title at the US Open.

World number one Williams was denied a first calendar Grand Slam when she was sensationally beaten by Roberta Vinci at the semi-final stage last September.

There was talk of a changing of the guard when the legendary American lost the Australian Open and French Open titles this year, but she responded by matching Steffi Graf’s Open Era record of 22 major singles crowns at Wimbledon in July.

Williams is the top seed for her home grand slam and is a strong favourite to win the final major of the year for a seventh time.

Former world number three Shriver, runner-up in the 1978 US Open, thinks normal service will be resumed for Williams in New York and is also backing the 34-year-old to triumph in Melbourne next year.

She told Omnisport: “I think she’ll win it this year. I didn’t pick her at the French, I had my doubts. I didn’t think she’d win the Australian because of having a four-month lay-off going into that.

“But I thought she’d win Wimbledon and she did. Three years ago she lost three majors in a row much earlier than she did the most recently, but after she wins one she wins them in a bit of a run, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she won three in a row again.”

Shriver believes the support of a home crowd can drive Williams, who plays Ekaterina Makarova in the first round on Monday, on as she attempts to regain her crown.

“I think she will feel so much less pressure than last year, also because she won Wimbledon and has at least tied Graf,” said Shriver.

“Every year Serena adds to her resume and history in the game, the New York crowds, while she’s never been beloved, I think the appreciation and realisation that the fans are looking at an athlete that comes along once in a blue moon.

“I think she will have the crowd will be much more with her in showing their appreciation, respect, admiration much, much more.

“That should be a really enjoyable experience for her. Venus started to get it a few years ago and her admiration will continue to be off the charts. I think Serena will respond really well to the support.”

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