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Serena out of Ash clash, but driven by Barty and Brady in record chase

“But, yeah, I think it’s just a new version of players. A lot of them have such a dynamic game, a lot of variety.

“Like Ash – she has such a good variety in her game. I think it brings a new level of tennis.”

Serena Williams needed a super tie-breaker to get past Danielle Collins on Friday.

Serena Williams needed a super tie-breaker to get past Danielle Collins on Friday.Credit:AP

But that doesn’t mean Williams believes Barty’s best is better than her own peak performance.

“I absolutely wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t think that,” Williams said when asked if her best tennis was still the best in the world.

“I think I’m a pretty big player just on all surfaces. I think all around it’s a really good opportunity for us both.”

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In the three years since the pair last played one another, Barty has risen to international stardom while Williams has unsuccessfully continued her pursuit of a record equalling 24th grand slam.

Time appears to be running out for Williams, who hasn’t claimed a major since the 2017 Australian Open.

But when questions of that nature are asked of Williams, she looks to the greatest NFL quarterback of all time – Tom Brady – for inspiration.

Brady, 43, will star in his 10th Super Bowl when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday morning (AEDT).

“I don’t know what it feels like to be [39]. I just feel like me. I feel good,” Williams said. “I look at Tom Brady, it’s so inspiring.

“I don’t know what athlete at what age is what any more. I think with all the new things, all the new technology, all the new physical treatments, rehab, things that you can do, I don’t know what that age means any more.”

Brady’s answer whenever he is asked which championship was his favourite is always the same: “The next one.”

Williams has the same mindset.

“Yeah, I mean, that would absolutely be my answer, for sure. It’s a great way to think. Otherwise you’re living off of what you already did.”

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Williams’ quest to add to her extensive trophy cabinet – a video of which went viral on Wednesday morning – is also partly driven by the absence of a Wimbledon trophy which has become the source of a lighthearted dispute between Serena and her sister, Venus.

“I have a lot of trophies in my other house, so that wasn’t even honestly half of them,” Williams said. “But I’ve never been a kind of person that this has been my life. My life is way more than a trophy. There’s way more to me than a championship, and away from the court.

“For me, every time I step on the court I know I’m this tennis player, but at the same time I’m a mum, I’m a human. There’s just so much more.

“I don’t know. I thought you were going to talk about the second place ones.”

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