They call it the Mouratoglou Miracle. Since the charismatic and charming Patrick Mouratoglou took over coaching Serena Williams, wonders have happened. Never mind that Serena was well past 30 when she teamed with the celebrated Frenchman. Since then Williams has dominated, winning eight of twelve Slams and an Olympic Gold.
Just 75 minutes before Serena’s big Aussie Open final against German Angelique Kerber, “Le Coach” was in the player cafeteria, about to have a grand veggie-heavy lunch. He had just opened his black book, which was crowded with court diagrams and “X-and-O” info. Generously he sat down with Inside Tennis for a quick pre-match interview.
INSIDE TENNIS: What did Serena’s four-month break do for her?
PATRICK MOURATOGLOU: She’s fresh mentally. I mean we did it essentially for the physical so she could recover from the little injuries that she had. She had many of those. We wanted her not to be bothered by them. But I think it had also a very good mental effect, because I feel she was really tired mentally at the end of the year. It was a very difficult year…She had a lot of stress. For example, being sick in Paris [at the French Open]. She had to dig so deep. So then she needed a break. We didn’t do it for that reason, but I feel now she’s very fresh mentally.
IT: Is she really playing history and the event more than Serena?
PM: Yeah. I think everyone is playing an event when he or she is in a Grand Slam final. Serena has more of a habit of making Grand Slam finals than Kerber, but she’s playing also for history, so let’s say 50/50.
IT: Do you think she’s a better player now than she was in New York? Do you think she’s moving better?
PM: Oh yeah. Sure, I’m very happy with her level of play from the start of the tournament. And also we worked on a lot of new things and she’s doing [them] during the matches, which is a good sign. She feels good also because she knows she’s playing well….
IT: Can you tell me one or two of the new things?
PM: No, I can’t, but if you look at the matches you’ll see.
IT: And finally, do you think she’s reinvigorated? Do you think she’ll go on and break Margaret Court’s mark of 24?
PM: Yes, I think so. We’ll see – but I think so.
IT: And the thing you love the most about working with
PM: That I love the most?
IT: Yes, that you love the most, if you don’t mind?
PM: There are many, but if have to name one, what I like the most is her appetite for learning.