Jessica Pegula says her ambitions to win a first Grand Slam title do not “weigh” on her – and that the WTA Tour “feels more open” in the post-Serena Williams era.
Williams retired from tennis at the US Open last summer, having won 23 Grand Slam titles and having been a dominant figure in the game for nearly 20 years.
In her absence, the likes of Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina, Pegula and Coco Gauff have moved to the top of the game.
All of that quintet apart from Pegula have won a Grand Slam title, but the 29-year-old says she is “right there” after her successes over the last couple of years.
“We saw Coco Gauff take advantage of that at the US Open, [she] really got hot this summer and proved she can be a Slam champion.
“I think that definitely motivates me as well. I think there’s a lot of opportunity right now for a lot of girls, me being one of them. Hopefully I can take advantage of that.
“It’s interesting with Serena being out. It’s different, it feels more open. Even when she wasn’t playing full time she was still the favourite and now it’s a different time, even though we have already seen who the top players are. But it’s an opportunity for everyone. I think why not me?”
Pegula has developed into a firm Grand Slam contender in the last two seasons.
Having only made one major quarter-final before 2022, she has now made six, and this year made the last eight at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
“I’ve already had a lot more success at Slams than I thought I would,” she added.
“Before I was just trying to win one round at a Slam, now the goal is getting to the semis or final or winning a Slam.
“I came really close at Wimbledon this year and eventually lost in the quarters to the eventual champion so I know I am right there and I think in the women’s game there is so much depth that anybody can kind of break through at any second.
“That also gives me confidence that it could happen any week.”
While there is a focus on when Pegula will progress beyond the quarter-finals at a major and perhaps win one, she says: “I wouldn’t say it weighs on me.
“It’s just something that is yet to be accomplished and hopefully I can get there.”
Alongside her deep Grand Slam runs, Pegula has won two WTA 1000 titles over the last two seasons and reached the final of the WTA Finals in 2023.
She has also got to No. 3 in the world rankings.
“I think I’ve proved that the last few years, every single year it seems to be getting better,” she said.
“I know there’s always going to be challenges or maybe that’s not the case, but in tennis I think you can always improve. I think I have already done that the last few years so why not keep improving the next few years? I think I can definitely get there.”
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