Patrick Mouratoglou has declared Serena Williams can still win grand slam titles, including the upcoming French Open.
Just weeks after Williams’ tearful departure from the Australian Open led to speculation that retirement might be in her plans, her coach has completely dismissed the notion she’s finished.
‘REALLY BAD’: Tennis world in disbelief over Miami Open chaos
TRUE WORLD NO.1: Ash Barty surges into Miami Open final
Williams fell just short again in her pursuit of a first slam in four years in Melbourne, losing to Naomi Osaka in the semi-finals.
But Mouratoglou is backing her to return firing at Roland Garros next month.
Williams has not been beyond the fourth round at the French Open since returning to the sport in 2018 following the birth of daughter Olympia, but she has twice been forced to withdraw through injury.
Mouratoglou cites the 39-year-old’s improved fitness as the key factor behind her impressive form in Australia and is looking to continue that work during the build-up to Roland Garros, which begins on May 23.
“She did a tremendous effort before the Australian Open and was very much in shape, so this is something that we definitely want to keep and continue to improve because it’s a key, and it’s going to be even more a key on clay,” he said on Thursday.
“I think she can really play very good on clay. She just has to be really very fit because on clay the serve is not as efficient and you have to work much more. Every rally is a fight.
“But I feel if she’s really, really ready, physically 100 per cent, then she can be very dangerous on clay as well.
“The level is high but I still believe that, when Serena is 100 per cent at the top of her physical form, she can win any slam.”
Coach dismisses Serena Williams retirement talk
Much was made of how Williams abruptly left her final press conference in Melbourne after a lingering wave to Rod Laver Arena.
She’s not been seen on a match court since, pulling out of the Miami Open following dental surgery.
“She was extremely disappointed because she really felt like she was ready to win it, she was playing really, really good tennis,” said Mouratoglou of her Australian adventure.
“She really felt this one was for her and she was disappointed about her match and her performance.
“Naomi played a good match but it was not the same Serena by far.
“It’s always difficult to take some positives when you have a big disappointment like that but there are some positives and I told her that her fitness was really great and that’s the key and we have to keep working like that.”
Williams will shortly head to Mouratoglou’s academy in Nice to step up her preparations for the clay-court season as she seeks that elusive 24th slam title to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record.
Watch ‘Mind Games’, the new series from Yahoo Sport Australia exploring the often brutal mental toil elite athletes go through in pursuit of greatness:
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.