| Kim's Aim: Clijsters has the ability to stop the Williams' domination in majors
|Driving Force: Serena says she is never where she wants to be, never satisfied
London: She has already bagged the ‘Serena Slam’ and is undisputedly the world’s best woman player but Serena Williams’ appetite for success remains “insatiable”.
When the fashion-savvy Serena struts on to the French Open facing Austrian Barbara Rittner next week, one thing is certain — she will be aiming to cement her place among the tennis greats even more firmly.
Twelve months ago, Serena arrived in Paris with a suspect claycourt game and in the shadow of her elder sister Venus — who was then the holder of the Wimbledon and US Open titles.
But after toiling away on the slow red clay for two weeks, Serena was crowned Roland Garros champion and launched her bid for tennis immortality.
“I am insatiable, I am never where I want to be, never satisfied,” said Serena, who went on to sweep the next three Grand Slam titles to become only the fifth woman to hold all four trophies at once.
“All my life I have dreamed of being the best and doing the best. It hasn’t always been easy for me and it is just so special the fact that I am making history right now.”
While Serena was ecstatic with her achievement after triumphing at the Australian Open in January, her main target is to complete the more prestigious calendar-year Grand Slam and join Maureen Connolly, Margaret Court and Steffi Graf in that exclusive club.
Having failed in her bid to stay unbeaten all season — she has lost twice this year — the American will be determined not to fall short of her other goal for 2003.
Among those hoping to end Serena’s winning run will be Venus, world number two Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne.
Venus, placed in Clijsters’ half in Friday’s draw, will meet a qualifier. Clijsters will open against American Amy Frazier, while fellow-Belgian Henin-Hardenne — drawn to meet Serena in the last four — takes on Austrian Patricia Wartusch.
Beaten by Serena in each of the last four Slam finals, Venus’ photogenic smile has remained in place for the cameras but her patience must be wearing thin. The sisters, of course, will again be clashing — if at all — only in the final.
Hungry to create history herself, Venus has had to make do with the unwanted tag of becoming the first woman to lose four successive Grand Slam title matches after her defeat in Melbourne Park.
Frustrated that her last major success was at the US Open in 2001, Venus has been plotting her sisterly revenge.
“These are major championships at stake. This is history, a career. I don’t want to be the player that won (just) four Grand Slams,” said Venus, who has won Wimbledon and the US Open twice but has yet to triumph at the French or Australian.
“Serena’s won all four Grand Slams and that’s something I sure would love to do one day. When you lose you are more motivated. I have experience... and I’m going to fight.”
Not only has Venus had to deal with finishing second-best to Serena, who grabbed the world number one ranking from her sister last July, but she has recently also lost ground to Clijsters.
The Belgian broke the Williams’ stranglehold on top of the rankings by leapfrogging Venus into second place.
Clijsters desperately wants to improve on her 2001 final showing, where she agonisingly lost the marathon match 10-12 in the third set to Jennifer Capriati.
Both Clijsters and Henin-Hardenne have worked on their speed and fitness over the past year to counter the brute power of their bigger rivals.
While Clijsters beat Serena at last year’s season-ending WTA Championships, Henin-Hardenne handed the world number one her first defeat of 2003 in the Charleston final six weeks ago.
Although the Belgians have the ability and weapons to claim their first Grand Slam crown, they have yet to chalk up a win over the Williamses at any of the four major tournaments.