- Can Serena (23) pass Margaret Court for most Grand Slam singles titles? Chris Evert certainly thinks so.
NEW YORK (AP)—Chris Evert expects new mom Serena Williams will eclipse the Grand Slam record of 24 singles titles, maybe even this season.
The former No. 1 tennis player also says the name of current record-holder Margaret Court should remain on the arena at the Australian Open despite her controversial views on LGBT rights.
''I don't agree with Margaret and her thinking,'' said the ESPN analyst and 18-time Grand Slam singles champion. ''I think it honors her tennis career.''
Williams restarts her tennis career on the WTA tour next week with 23 major titles. She'll play an exhibition match Monday night at Madison Square Garden in New York, then compete at Indian Wells, California, in her first tour event in more than a year.
Williams dealt with serious health issues after the birth of her first child in September and missed the first major in January.
But the 36-year-old Williams has been winning majors at a swift clip. Williams passed Evert and Martina Navratilova's 18 at the 2015 Australian Open and won four more majors in the next three years.
Evert thinks Williams will win at least one Grand Slam title this season.
''I just cannot bet against her,'' she said in a recent phone interview with The Associated Press. ''I'd be surprised if she won two; I would bet on her to win one.''
Evert knows a bit about records. Raised in a tennis family and taught by her father Jimmy in Florida, she turned pro at 17 in 1972 and promptly earned the No. 1 ranking two years later after winning the French Open and Wimbledon.
She won a record seven French Opens and reached the semifinals or better in 52 of 56 majors. The tennis Hall of Famer won 157 singles and 32 doubles titles in an 18-year career, which spanned the eras of Billie Jean King, Navratilova and Steffi Graf.
Her career winning percentage (90%) is better than top-ranked Roger Federer (82%). It remains the highest for men or women since the Open era of professional tennis began in 1968.
Here are a few more thoughts from the 63-year-old Evert, the publisher of Tennis magazine and mother of three adult sons.
Evert says Serena's best chance of winning more majors rests on the grass of Wimbledon.
''Who knows how she'll come out of the starting gate,'' she said. ''Wimbledon, that would be her best shot because that favors power, rewards power and the rallies aren't long. She's got the big serve. The U.S. Open is going to be tough because it's on a hard court, it's hot. She'll have to be moving well and be very, very fit.''
Incorporating tennis and family becomes the new challenge after marrying Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and giving birth to baby Olympia. He recently bought four billboards along the highway to Indian Wells that say ''Greatest Momma Of All Time.''
''When you have a child, that's an emotional component that you've never experienced before,'' Evert said. ''I keep saying this—whenever anybody doubts Serena, she thrives. That gives her more motivation, more incentive and she always comes out the winner.''