Serena Williams will finish as GOAT even if she doesn't break Margaret Court's record, says coach Patrick Mouratoglou
The American superstar is frustratingly marooned on 23 Grand Slam titles, one short of the all-time record held by Margaret Court.
Explained: Is grass to blame for Serena Williams' Wimbledon exit? All you need to know about Grand Slam surfaces
Neither was Serena Williams the only one to quit after sustaining an injury. Adrian Mannarino, who had gone up against eight-time champion Roger Federer, too, withdrew after slipping and hurting himself.
The 39-year-old was leading 3-1 in the first set of her first round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus when she slipped and injured her right leg.
Williams, ranked eighth in the world, beat the 572nd-ranked Pigato, making her WTA debut, 6-3, 6-2 in the first meeting between the two players.
Australian Open 2021: Beyond Big Three, Novak Djokovic sets sights on Serena Williams' and Margaret Court's Grand Slam tally
Djokovic raised the prospect of a bigger goal: reaching the 23 held by Williams, and even the 24 won by Court straddling the amateur and Open era.
Australian Open 2021: 'I'm done', Serena Williams in tears after falling short of 24th Grand Slam yet again
Pressed on what caused her to make so many mistakes, tears began to flow as she told reporters: "I don't know. I'm done," before walking out.
The 39-year-old, 23-time major winner has lost four Slam finals while chasing Court's all-time mark since her last major victory at Melbourne Park in 2017 while pregnant.
Australian Open 2021: Injury-hit Novak Djokovic overcomes Taylor Fritz to reach last 16; Dominic Thiem ousts Nick Kyrgios
In the now-empty stadium, a grimacing Djokovic, who needed repeated treatment on an abdominal injury, recovered from losing the third and fourth sets to beat Fritz 7-6 (7/1), 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2.
Federer played just one tournament this year, a bumpy run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open, before knee surgery put him on the sidelines.
"As far as renaming the venue (Margaret Court Aena). I think that yes, it's something the sport should consider. I don't know who makes the final decision on that but I don't think her values are what tennis stands for," said Andy Murray.
Williams, whose 23 major victories are an Open-era record, will have nothing but her own skill and will to get her through as she seeks a record-breaking seventh title on the hard courts at Flushing Meadows.
Tennis is, and has been, guilty of living in the bubble for too long. And players have been guilty of being selfish, privileged and aiding their factions and egos.
Tennis Australia (TA) invited Court, who won a record 24 Grand Slam titles, to Melbourne Park to recognise the 50th anniversary of her 1970 calendar Grand Slam, while saying it disagreed with her “personal views”.
Australian Open 2020: Martina Navratilova apologises for protocol breach, not for protest to rename Margaret Court Arena
Navratilova has regularly objected to Margaret Court Arena being named to honor the Australian tennis great who has become a religious minister and made controversial comments about homosexuality and gay-marriage.
Australian Open 2020: Martina Navratilova, John McEnroe stage unique protest to demand name change of Margaret Court Arena
Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe called for Margaret Court’s name to be stripped from the Australian Open’s second showcourt in a protest at the stadium
John McEnroe mocked Australian Margaret Court as the ‘crazy aunt’ of tennis on Monday and said he hoped Serena Williams could beat the 77-year-old’s record of winning 24 Grand Slam singles titles.
Australian Open 2020: Margaret Court's remarks on same-sex marriage clouds celebration of her 50th anniversary of calendar Grand Slam
Court, who also holds the all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles, has been heavily criticised for voicing her religious-based opposition to same-sex marriage.
Australian Open 2020: Wang Qiang turns the tables on 23-time grand slam winner Serena Williams with simplicity and a smile
Against Wang, Serena did step on the gas every now and then, and ended with 43 winners for the match. But she also hit 56 unforced errors, many of which came when she was pushed wide.
Australian tennis icon Margaret Court slams transgender athletes, calls LGBT material in schools work of 'the devil'
Australian tennis great Margaret Court has launched a tirade against transgender athletes and called the teaching of LGBTI materials at schools the work of the “devil” in a fiery sermon at her Perth church.
From domination of 'Big Three' in Grand Slams to Nadal powering Spain to victory in revamped Davis Cup Finals, the year in tennis
The tennis season culminated in Madrid where the incarnation of the 119-year-old Davis Cup was won by the Nadal-inspired home side, beating Canada in an emotional final