June 18, 2015 / 11:25 PM / 2 years ago

No lapses if Williams wants Serena Slam: Evert, McEnroe

Serena Williams of the U.S. celebrates after winning her women's singles final match against Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France, June 6, 2015. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX1FE9G

(Reuters) - Serena Williams has a great chance to sweep to victory at Wimbledon and hold all four grand slam titles at the same time but she must raise her consistency, former champions Chris Evert and John McEnroe said on Thursday.

Williams is one Wimbledon title away from completing what she calls the Serena Slam for the second time in her career -- having followed up her 2014 U.S. Open success with victories at this year’s Australian and French Opens -- but must overcome her recent lean spell on grass.

After winning the last of her five Wimbledon titles in 2012, the American world number one has fallen before the quarter-finals in her last two outings at the grasscourt major.

“I think Serena’s got a great shot,” Evert, winner of 18 grand slam singles, said on a conference call arranged by ESPN. 

“To me, her game is better suited to the grass courts than it is to the clay. She struggled through the French, remarkably winning it.”

Three-times Wimbledon champion McEnroe said it was there for the taking for Williams, who is bidding to win her 21st grand slam singles title.

“Serena’s ... chasing history in terms of her grand slam titles,” McEnroe said. “Even though she’s still playing arguably her best tennis, you have to wonder at a certain point how long that can keep up.”

The American commentators agreed that the lapses of concentration that hampered her at Roland Garros could prove more costly at the All England Club.

“When she is at her best she is better than anybody else,” Evert said. “But at the same time we’ve seen some hiccups and we’ve seen some drama, like at the French Open. She can’t afford to have any more drama like at the French Open.”

Williams battled flu during the second week of her run at Roland Garros, where she survived five three-set battles to win the title, beating Lucie Safarova in the final.

“On grass, a couple bigger hitters ... (could) win more points on the serve than they would on a clay court or a hard court,” McEnroe said.

“They’re not as easily attackable because of the nature of the grass being a little bit more difficult to gauge where the ball’s going to be...”

Evert concurred.

“On the clay, you have the luxury of playing your way into a match a little bit more,” she noted. “Even when she was a set and a break down, she could still play her way back into it.

“As John says, she gets a (Sabine) Lisicki, who has a big serve, (Petra) Kvitova, (Victoria) Azarenka, somebody who is hot that day, grass is not the same surface as clay.  You can’t play your way into it as easily.”

Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Frank Pingue

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