Patrick Mouratoglou believes Serena Williams is the greatest player of all-time and sees himself coaching the world No1 until she decides to hang up her racquet.
Mouratoglou and Williams are back in the Wimbledon finals three years after they experienced their first grand slam triumph together at the All England Club.
Their record as a team includes seven major titles in the last 12 slams and a win for Williams on Saturday against Spanish No20 seed Garbine Muguruza would give the American her four consecutive grand slam trophy.
Asked to explain how they’ve accomplished so much together, the French coach says Williams is the most focused she’s ever been on tennis throughout her career.
“We’ve won seven of the last 12 majors together. It’s a very successful partnership. I think Serena is the greatest player of all-time and we get along well, there’s a lot of trust and the plan that we imagined for her to come back to the top is working really well,” Mouratoglou told me on Friday.
“She’s very focused, she’s very much into her tennis - maybe more than she’s ever been - that explains why she’s doing so well. She’s got so many qualities, that if the mentality is there, if she’s into her job 100 per cent then she’s very dangerous.”
Williams has had a rough draw this fortnight, having had to beat world No4 Maria Sharapova, ex-world No1 Victoria Azarenka, and her sister, Venus Williams in her last three rounds. You’d expect her to be calm when she takes on Muguruza, who is making her grand slam final debut, today.
“She was calm the whole tournament. The draw was very very difficult, she in a way played a few matches that could have been final, the last three for example… so she’s very much into the tournament because she already had to dig deep and raise her level a few times in order to win very difficult matches, so I see it as something positive,” said Mouratoglou.
“We have to keep focused because there is one more step to go and it’s not an easy step because a final is always a special match to win.”
Muguruza has given Williams trouble in the past, including a victory over the world No1 at the French Open last year. Asked how much weight that match in Paris can have on today’s final, Mouratoglou said: “It’s going to have maybe weight for Garbine because she will think she can do it, because she did it already, so definitely.
“On Serena, not really, because Serena knows that at the period she was far from her best level. They played again since then and Serena won. But definitely it will help Garbine, if she had never played her or never had beaten her this would be more difficult, especially because it’s her first grand slam final, so maybe she’ll feel better.”
While the Grand Slam subject has become a taboo topic for Williams in press conferences, Mouratoglou was happy to discuss it. Asked if his charge is able to not think about the prospect of winning all four slams in one calendar year, he said: “It’s probably somewhere (in her head) but she’s so focused on the next match every time, what she needs to do on the court, she’s so much in the present time, not in the future.
“If it happens one day it’s going to be great, but it’s definitely not the main focus.”
On whether he saw himself coaching Williams until the day she retires, he said: “Yes, why not?”