London, United Kingdom: Wimbledon champion Serena Williams insists she won't let her chase for the all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles become a damaging distraction.
Williams ended one of the most frustrating periods of her career on Saturday when she equalled Steffi Graf's Open era record of 22 major titles with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Angelique Kerber in the Wimbledon final.
Since winning Wimbledon 12 months ago, Serena had been stuck on 21 Slams after losing in the US Open semi-finals and this year's Australian and French Open finals.
The long wait to see her name alongside Graf was a stressful time for the 34-year-old American.
Having finally tied Graf's landmark with a seventh Wimbledon triumph that took her within two of Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 majors, Serena was asked if she was now focused on surpassing that tally to establish herself as the best ever.
But the world number one is adamant she won't be making a point of targeting any more major milestones.
"Oh, God, no. I've learned a lot about 22. I learned not to get involved in those debates and conversations," Serena said.
"I definitely had some sleepless nights, if I'm honest. Coming so close. Feeling it, not being able to quite get there.
"I've just felt a lot of pressure. I put a lot of that pressure on myself. Obviously had some really tough losses.
"One thing I learned about last year is to enjoy the moment. I'm definitely going to enjoy this."
Embarrassed by her stunning loss to Roberta Vinci at the US Open last year -- a defeat that cost her a rare calendar Grand Slam -- and humbled by her further failures this year, Williams had vowed to come back stronger than ever and she conceded it was a huge relief to finally end her quest.
"Definitely so excited to win Wimbledon, that's always a great feeling. But maybe even more so is the excitement of getting 22, trying so hard to get there, finally being able to match history, which is pretty awesome," she said.
"Even though I didn't win those tournaments, I was fighting and I was in the final again.
"I think, if anything, I was able to show resilience that, no, that's not going to shake me, you're not going to break me, it's going to make me stronger."
After suffering a dip in form earlier this year, Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou told her she was back to her best at the French Open and the message finally sunk in at Wimbledon.
"I think sometime after the French Open, we were talking and strategising. He just said, 'You're back'. I guess he was right," she said.
"I had to start looking at positives, not focusing on that one loss per tournament which anyone else on this tour would be completely happy about.
"Once I started focusing more on the positives, I realised that I'm pretty good. Then I started playing a little better."
Asked to reflect on her incredible success at the majors, which started with a US Open title as a trailblazing teenager in 1999, Serena admitted it was becoming hard to keep track of all her triumphs.
"There's definitely some blurs between eight, nine and ten," she said. "I remember one through four. Gets really blurry after that."
Serena will have a chance to win a second singles gold medal at the Olympics in Rio next month before attempting to close in on Court with a 23rd major at the US Open a few weeks later.
But even the ferociously competitive Williams seems happy to rest on her laurels, for a while at least.
"I love gold. Not to knock the Olympics, but right now I am probably focused a little more on the slams, or at least I was with getting to 22," she said.
"Now I feel like, you know, everything else will be pretty good."
The Great Diwali Discount!
Unlock 75% more savings this festive season. Get Moneycontrol Pro for a year for Rs 289 only.
Coupon code: DIWALI. Offer valid till 10th November, 2019 .
Updated Date: Jul 09, 2016 23:18:34 IST