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LONDON (AP) — For someone who already owns 23 Grand Slam titles, seven at Wimbledon, Serena Williams sure sounds like a tennis player who is just starting her career.
After losing the final at the All England Club to Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-3 on Saturday , Williams was ready to look ahead.
“I didn’t know a couple of months ago where I was, where I would be, how I would do, how I would be able to come back. It was such a long way to see light at the end of the road, kind of,” said Williams, who gave birth to a daughter last September, then dealt with complications involving blood clots.
“So I think these two weeks have really showed me that, OK, I can compete. Obviously I can compete for the long run in a Grand Slam,” the 36-year-old American continued. “I can, you know, come out and be a contender to win Grand Slams.”
There was a time, not all that long ago, that Williams was ranked No. 1 for years at a time. She won four major tournaments in a row and came close to a calendar-year Grand Slam. She was the favorite every time she entered a tournament.
Williams appeared to be regaining that form this fortnight. Barring some sort of setback in the next six weeks, she will head into the U.S. Open at the end of August as the player to beat.
“I’m sure you will have your next Grand Slam title soon,” said Kerber, now a three-time major champion. “I’m really, really sure.”
If Williams does earn one more, it’ll tie her with Margaret Court for the all-time record of 24. As it is, Williams has the mark for the most majors in the professional era; she moved one head of Steffi Graf by winning the 2017 Australian Open.
She was pregnant at the time. It would be her last tournament for more than a year, in part because of a series of medical procedures that followed a difficult childbirth. As she put it this week: “I lost count after, like, four surgeries.”
Williams didn’t enter another major until this May, at the French Open, where she won the three matches she played before withdrawing with a chest muscle injury . After a little more time off, she played the fourth tournament of her comeback at Wimbledon, wearing compression leggings as a precaution against pulmonary embolisms.
“I just like to tell all the moms, like, I had such a long struggle to come back, and it was really difficult,” Williams said. “Honestly, I feel like if I can do it, they can do it.”
On Saturday, Williams was supported by several celebrity friends at Centre Court.
That group included Tiger Woods, Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour, Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton and — in the front row of the Royal Box — the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.
Williams was asked what she’ll tell her daughter, Olympia, about this tournament and this day.
“Well, I think it was a happy story,” Williams said with a smile. “I’ll probably change the ending.”