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Serena Williams' Wimbledon mission | World No 1 Iga Swiatek 'too shy to say hello'

Serena Williams is hoping to equal Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles and pick up an eighth Wimbledon singles crown; Iga Swiatek is on a 35-match winning streak that includes her French Open triumph earlier in June

Serena Williams
Image: Serena Williams in action at Wimbledon

It is 20 years since Serena Williams first lifted the Wimbledon singles title but there is only one thing on her mind as she returns to action ahead of next week at SW19.

Her first matches of the year came in doubles in Eastbourne earlier this week with Ons Jabeur, but she has only one thing on her mind.

When asked what her goal for the tournament is, she said with a smile: "You know the answer to that. Come on now."

There will also be a sense of avenging last year's disappointment on Williams' mind. She had to retire early in her first-round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus because of a leg injury.

"It was always something since the match ended that was always on my mind," she said. "So it was a tremendous amount of motivation for that."

The red-hot favourite going in, though, is World No 1 Iga Swiatek and the Pole, who is bidding to continue an incredible 35-match winning streak which dates back to February, revealed she was too shy to say hello to Williams.

Iga Swiatek of Poland celebrates with the trophy after winning against Coco Gauff of The United States during the Women’s Singles final match on Day 14 of The 2022 French Open at Roland Garros on June 04, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Image: Iga Swiatek of Poland celebrates with the trophy after winning the 2022 French Open at Roland Garros earlier this month

"When I saw her yesterday, I was pretty overwhelmed," said the 21-year-old. "I felt like I am still kind of new. I didn't know how to react perfectly. I wanted to meet her.

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"I saw that she had so many people around her. I don't know her team. It was pretty weird. I came back to myself a few years earlier when I was too shy to say hi to anybody for a second."

Williams revealed her decision to play at Wimbledon was made before the French Open, which was won by Swiatek, but the veteran has not had time to get back to peak form as she bids for an eighth singles title on the hallowed grass and the 24th of her career.

On her break from the sport, she said: "I didn't retire. I just needed to heal physically, mentally. I had no plans, to be honest. I just didn't know when I would come back.

"I didn't know how I would come back. Obviously, Wimbledon is such a great place to be, and it just kind of worked out."

Williams has made no secret of her desire to add to her Grand Slam haul, which would see her finally draw level with Margaret Court at the top of the all-time standings.

She has made four Grand Slam finals since returning from maternity leave, including two at Wimbledon in 2018 and 2019, but has not won a set.

Serena Williams of the U.S holds her trophy after winning the women's singles final against Angelique Kerber of Germany on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Saturday, July 9, 2016. Serena Williams is going to play at Wimbledon this year, after all. The All England Club announced via Twitter on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, that Williams was awarded a wild-card entry for singles.(AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)
Image: Serena Williams holds the trophy aloft after winning her seventh Wimbledon women's singles title back in 2016

She will be hoping this is the tournament where she can put that right. But with other interests now very prevalent and taking up much of the time in the 40-year-old's life, there may not be many other opportunities for Williams to create history.

As to whether this is her final Wimbledon appearance, the American added: "I don't know. I can only tell you that I'm here. Who knows where I'll pop up next. You've just got to be ready."

Swiatek, meanwhile, will play in the main draw for only the third time, with last year's run to the fourth round her best performance so far.

She is managing expectations going into the tournament though, and said: "Honestly, I still feel like I need to figure out grass. I didn't have a lot of time to prepare. But I'm just trying to stay open-minded and kind of take positives from the situation.

"I have so much successes this season that I don't have to show everybody that I need to play well in every tournament because it's tennis, we have ups and downs. So I try to play without expectations and just see what this tournament brings me.

Wimbledon is back! Join Sky Sports for all the coverage from the All England Club from Monday, June 27, with a daily live blog on our digital platforms plus extensive updates on Sky Sports News.

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