Coach’s scary Serena warning
After passing her biggest test of the Australian Open with a win over world No. 1 Simona Halep, Serena Williams is ready to claim another grand slam title according to her coach Patrick Mouratoglou.
Williams is out to match Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 majors after falling just short at the US Open and Wimbledon last year as a beaten finalist. Ahead of her quarter-final showdown with Karolina Pliskova at Melbourne Park on Wednesday, her long-time mentor said Williams was finally back to her physical and mental peak since giving birth 16 months ago.
In her last Australian Open appearance in 2017, Williams won the title when pregnant with daughter Olympia.
"I think she's fitter than she was last year, because even though she made a lot of effort to come back in shape last year, I don't think she had enough time," Mouratoglou said.
"For a top-level athlete to come back and be 100 per cent fit after having a baby any time, I think there was not enough time.
"I feel now she's back to being Serena, on both the physical and emotional side." Mouratoglou said that while she wasn't lacking motivation, it was too early last year for Williams to return to her grand slam-winning ways.
"She was very motivated last year, but it was just too early for her," he said. "She was ready to reach a final but there is a big difference between reaching a final and winning it.
"I didn't want to say it when she lost, because it sounds like an excuse, but you cannot buy time - things take time."
Mouratoglou's seven-year partnership with Williams was under pressure when she was given a warning in the US Open final loss to Naomi Osaka for off-court coaching.
That led to a Williams' meltdown, with Mouratoglou admitting after the match he had been coaching despite her denials.
But the Frenchman wasn't worried Williams would blame him or even axe him as coach.
"I hope that our seven years' relationship is a bit stronger than a chair umpire," he said.
"She's much too smart to do that - it's not a reason for taking a decision that would have an impact on your future.
"I think she's also very responsible and doesn't blame others for her problems."
Melissa Woods, AAP