Madison Keys talks US Open preparation, says Serena Williams has toughest serve in tennis

At the 2017 US Open, Madison Keys was a part of something crazy. She was one of four USA women to make the US Open semifinals, joining Venus Williams, CoCo Vandeweghe, and Sloane Stephens. Stephens would defeat Keys in the final, but for Keys, it was her first appearance in a Grand Slam final. She was 22 when she made that appearance.

This year, Keys is looking to take it a step further. She's already having a strong season, having made it to the Australian Open quarterfinals and the French Open semifinals, but the No. 14 seed wants to win a major. Even though last year will be on her mind, now it's all about moving forward and enjoying the moment.

"There's obviously going to be that thought in the back of my mind, of what I did the year before," Keys said of her mindset heading into this year's US Open to "I really just look forward to playing in the US Open and having fans behind me and having that energy .... And to have so many great women not only competing but also be one of the top seeds, that's just icing on the cake."

Keys talked about how she's doing to try and win her first major, including how IBM's artificial intelligence is allowing tennis players to train with information.

"I have used IBM technology in matches for many years now," Keys told "I think I've used -- more specifically to kind of scout players and see what their tendencies are or what they're doing well the match before. So what I think I'm really excited about now is that we're going to be able to use it in practice which I think, even bigger than this being helpful at the US Open, I think that in the future for offseason and getting ready for Australia and things like that will be super beneficial."

According to an IBM representative, coaches will now be able to look at match footage round-by-round with new technology being used for the tournament. It's a bit like NFL personnel using tablets on the sideline to break down plays that occurred moments before, with coaches getting pre and post-match reports for  players. 

For Keys to win her first major, she'll have to go through a brutal field that now includes six-time US Open-winner Serena Williams. Williams has played remarkably well in her first two majors back from a maternity leave that lasted for over a year, and Keys knows that between Williams and everyone else playing, there's no easy road to the US Open final.

Keys talked about Williams' comeback so far this year, which has dominated the tennis conversation.

"I think what she's done is incredible," Keys said. "But ... I'm also not surprised, just because she is such a great athlete and player and all of the above. So to see her doing so well so quickly, I'm happy she's back because I think tennis needs her. But I'm also not very surprised."

When asked who has the toughest serve to return in tennis, Keys had a familiar name in mind.

"I have to say, trying to return Serena's serve when she's playing well is extremely difficult, just because she's so good at disguising where she's going to hit the ball," Keys said. "And she's capable of hitting all of her spots, so she's probably the toughest server that I've gone against."

When asked about last year's US Open, Keys said that it was amazing to be playing alongside her fellow countrywomen so late in the tournament.

"It was incredible," she said. "The fact that there were four U.S. women in the semifinals was pretty incredible. And to be a part of that was really special. And I know ... We represented our country actually all together at the Olympics. It was really fun to be a part of that history, but at the same time it was also very difficult because for the first time we were all competing against each other in that ... while we were all together. So that was a little bit different, but it was also very nice to have people who you know love representing their country just as much as you do all together."

However, now 23, Keys said she wants to start building her career portfolio.

"I feel like I've done a lot," Keys said. "...I want so much more, and I expect a lot of myself, so I'm also not satisfied ... The thing that I want is I obviously want to win Grand Slams. I want to win multiple Grand Slams. I want to be No. 1 in the world."

Keys is right. She has already done a lot. She won a WTA match at 14, she came back from surgery and made a final last year, she's been consistently within the WTA top 25 since 2015, and she's made it out of the first round of every major since she started making regular appearances in 2013. She's not satisfied yet, though. She wants to win.

Our Latest Stories