Simona Halep knows she's No. 1 but says Serena Williams is the 'best player in the world'
The 2018 French Open champ is set to take on Williams in the Aussie Open's Round of 16
Reigning French Open champion Simona Halep might be ranked No. 1 on the Women's Tennis Association tour, but as she prepares for the Round of 16 at the 2019 Australian Open, she's calling her next opponent the true worldwide No. 1.
Fresh off a 6-2, 6-3 defeat of Venus Williams at Margaret Court Arena, Halep is scheduled to face Williams' younger sister, Serena, on Sunday. And even though her opponent is ranked 16th entering the big-name match, Halep told USA Today that she can't even compare herself with Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam winner and seven-time Aussie Open champ.
"In my opinion, to be No. 1 in the world and to be the best player in the world, it's a little bit different," Halep said, per Sandra Harwitt. "In this moment, I'm No. 1 in the world, so I will take that. I feel like I have been there many months, many weeks. But for sure she's the best player in the world, because she won so many Grand Slams. She's been a lot on No. 1. I cannot compare my results to her."
Halep went on to say she's "confident that I am in this position" and promised to give Williams her all.
"I will not put pressure on myself," she said. "There's a good chance for me to play my best tennis and to feel good on court."
Beating Williams, however, would make her just the ninth woman to defeat both Venus and Serena at the same tournament. According to The New York Times' Adam Zagoria, that hasn't been done in almost a decade, with Jelena Jankovic last accomplishing the feat at the 2010 Italian Open in Rome.
After topping Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska in the third round of the Australian Open, Williams said she would be prepared to take on either Halep or her sister, especially considering she owns an 8-1 career mark against the former.
"I haven't played the world No. 1 since I've been back (from giving birth), I don't think," she said. "It will be good."
Williams last won the Open in 2017 but withdrew from the 2018 tournament following her pregnancy. Halep, meanwhile, won her first major tournament at the 2018 French Open after advancing to the 2018 Australian Open women's final.
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