After Serena Williams lost to Naomi Osaka in the 2021 Australian Open semifinal, there were speculations that 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams is nearing the end of her incredible journey.
Patrick Mouratoglou, who has been Williams’ coach since 2012, doesn’t believe retirement is on the horizon for the athlete, however.
“I don’t think she will stop until she at least wins a Grand Slam, because she came back to win Grand Slams,” Mouratoglou told the PEOPLE about Serena Williams’s return. “She doesn’t quit,” he added.
Exiting the court after her loss on Wednesday, Williams received a standing ovation from the crowd, which she accepted warmly, waving to fans and placing a hand over her heart. The moment led commentators to discuss her tennis legacy and question whether it would be Williams’ last time at the Rod Laver Arena.
Mouratoglou speaks on Serena Williams’ retirement
When a reporter at the press conference asked if it was a “farewell,” the tennis star, who turns 40 this year, simply responded, “I don’t know. If I ever say farewell, I wouldn’t tell anyone.” A few minutes later, a visibly teary-eyed Williams ended the conference early.
“I don’t think she planned [retirement] for this certain moment. She’s dedicated all her life to tennis since she was a kid,” Mouratoglou says. “So the day she will retire, she will feel like she’s giving an end to 40 years of a life,” he added.
“It’s something that is difficult to measure for people, That’s why it’s very sensitive. That’s why it’s very emotional for her. I completely get it,” he continues.
Williams is currently one title away from tying Margaret Court, who won 24 Grand Slam women’s singles titles, making her the most decorated female tennis player in modern history. With three more major tournaments this year, there’s always a possibility Williams will soon be able to tie, or even surpass, Court.