Shriver: Serena can join USA Olympic greats in Rio


Pam Shriver believes Serena Williams can go down as one of the United States' greatest ever Olympians by winning at least one gold medal in Rio this month.

The world number one won the Olympic singles title in London four years ago and also stood on top of the podium with her sister Venus after they were crowned doubles champions.

Serena won doubles golds in Sydney 16 years ago, a feat she repeated in Beijing back in 2008 and arrived in Brazil on the back of equalling Steffi Graf's Open Era record of 22 grand slam singles titles by winning at Wimbledon.

The legendary 34-year-old is favourite to win another singles gold in Rio and will have high hopes of further success in the doubles after combining with her older sibling to triumph in the doubles at the All England Club on the same day in which she beat Angelique Kerber in the singles final.

Shriver, who won women's doubles gold for the United States at the 1988 Seoul Games, thinks the incentive of being place among the pantheon of USA Olympians can drive Serena - who faces Daria Gavrilova in the first round - to yet more glory.

The 1978 US Open finalist told Omnisport: "I know very little about how Serena has trained since Wimbledon. What I do think with Serena now in her mid-30s is there can be a wide range of her play depending on her preparation.

"I would have thought to have 10 days training with the incentive of winning gold again and really becoming one of the great athletes of all time in US Olympic history, that motivation, just like trying to get past Steffi Graf and towards Margaret Court, will really drive her. 

"You would think in the Olympic arena trying to get another gold or two would just make her really work hard the last 10 days or two weeks.

"I'm sure she needed pause after Wimbledon, everybody does, but assuming she's fully ready she's a clear favourite.

"If for some reason she hasn't been able to restart and motivate, it could be a problem. If she's near her best, when you think who's not in the field, she's a definite favourite."

Asked who could pose the biggest threat to Serena, Shriver added: "[Garbine] Muguruza is an interesting one because she lost so early at Wimbledon after winning the French and on a hard court I think she's a real danger.

"Others are dangerous, but with [Simona] Halep, [Maria] Sharapova and [Victoria] Azarenka not in the field it takes a few of the big rivals out. Venus might be one of the top three threats, Kerber is dangerous all year long but you wouldn't want to be on anyone else to come out with gold."

Shriver also thinks the manner in which the Williams sisters won the doubles at the All England Club bodes well for their chances of retaining their Olympic title.

"I saw all of their final at Wimbledon, considering they had hardly played together for a few years their play was great, especially Serena on the day she won both the singles and doubles, she took over the court," she said.

"At the end of the Wimbledon doubles final she knew Venus was struggling a little bit from getting to the singles semis and the doubles final and Serena just took charge. It was the best doubles I'd ever seen Serena play."