‘The greatest in women’s tennis’ - Sania Mirza hails legend Serena Williams

Serena Williams was ousted from the Australian Open by Naomi Osaka in the semi-final. But Sania Mirza thinks it’s too early for the Japanese to fill Serena’s shoes.

By Ubaid Parkar ·

Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza thinks Serena Williams is the greatest women’s tennis player of all time.

Recently ousted in the semi-final of the Australian Open by young Naomi Osaka, veteran Serena Williams exited the Grand Slam on an emotional note.

For some, the result was seen as the handing of the baton. Sania Mirza, however, felt otherwise.

“I mean, that's a big, big ask of anyone,” Sania Mirza said. “Serena is arguably the greatest tennis player. Definitely, the greatest in the women's game. So it's a difficult ask of someone who's that young and who's only won three Grand Slams.”

In a career that has spanned over two decades, the 39-year-old Serena Williams has won 23 Grand Slams, one short of equalling Margaret Court’s record. Incidentally, Serena’s last Grand Slam win came at the 2017 Australian Open and has been chasing the record ever since.

On Thursday, Naomi Osaka outplayed Serena Williams 6-3, 6-4 to enter her fourth Grand Slam final.

“Everything was sort of lined up for Serena. The courts were fast and she was playing well,” said Sania, who has won the Australian Open twice - in doubles and mixed doubles. “But all credit to Osaka for coming out and playing the way that she did.

“I think for Serena it is more of a mental slump rather than a physical one. She may be affected by the burden of getting the 24th title. We can only speculate,” the Indian added. “But she was quite emotional in her post-match media conference. Also, rankings don't lie. Osaka is No. 3 in the world and has been a consistent performer.”

Naomi Osaka, 23, is the defending champion at the Australian Open and is set to play American Jennifer Brady in the final at Melbourne Park on Saturday. The Japanese tennis player is in solid form, having dropped just one set during the whole tournament.

"I do think that Osaka can be a successor (to Serena) of sorts,” Sania Mirza pointed out. “I think Osaka will win many Slams in the future. Whether she can step into Serena's shoes is a different story altogether. But she is a champion in her own right.”