Serena Williams believes there is an “aura” surrounding her when she plays and has no hesitation in describing herself as “great”.
The 36-year-old American was reacting to US compatriot Madison Keys claiming that “it must suck” being Williams as every woman wants to claim her scalp.
“I’m glad someone admitted that,” said Williams who stayed on course for an eighth Wimbledon title on Friday with a 7-5, 7-6 (7/2) win over France’s Kristina Mladenovic.
“Every single match I play, whether I’m coming back from a baby or surgery, it doesn’t matter, these young ladies, they bring a game that I’ve never seen before.
“It’s interesting because I don’t even scout as much because when I watch them play, it’s a totally different game than when they play me.
“That’s what makes me great: I always play everyone at their greatest, so I have to be greater.”
Williams, 36, is playing just her second Grand Slam since the birth of her daughter Olympia in September last year.
She made the last 16 at the French Open before a pectoral injury forced her to pull out.
She is back in the fourth round of Wimbledon where she will face Russian qualifier — and fellow mother — Evgeniya Rodina on Monday.
“Yeah, there’s definitely that aura, that kind of thing of playing Serena,” added the American.
“At the same time these women are proud. They don’t go out there and say, I’m going to lose because I’m playing Serena.
“They go out there and say, I’m going to play hard because I’m playing Serena.”
Keys, who was knocked out by Rodina 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 despite having led 5-2 in the first set, admitted she had let her mind wander to what it would be like having to face Williams in the next round.
While she was day-dreaming, world number 120 Rodina pounced.
“It must suck every match,” said Keys when asked what it must feel like being Williams and spending the best part of two decades being hunted down by rivals.
“It just gives even more props to her.”
Serena has not met a fellow seeded player at the tournament so far and would not until the semi-finals at the earliest.
If she gets past Rodina on Monday, she would go on to face either Italy’s Camila Giorgi or Ekaterina Makarova of Russia in the quarter-finals.
She cannot face sister Venus in the semi-finals after the five-time champion was knocked out by Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 8-6.
Serena, seeded a modest 25 this year, enjoyed a 7-5, 7-6 (7/2) win over France’s 25 year-old Kristina Mladenovic to set up a last-16 duel with Russian qualifier — and fellow mother — Evgeniya Rodina.
Victory on Centre Court, sealed with a 13th ace, came 20 minutes after Venus, a five-time champion, had slumped to a 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 8-6 loss to Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands on Court One.
Mladenović, who lost to Serena is ranked 62 and has been a doubles specialist. She had won 17 doubles titles, including in Grand slams, as against one WTA Tour title.
Only two of the top 10 seeds remain in the women’s draw — number one Simona Halep, who plays her third round match on Saturday, and seventh seed Karolina Pliskova who is in action later Friday.
“I have worked really hard and it’s been a long arduous road,” said Serena, playing in just her second Slam since the birth of her daughter Olympia last September.
“At this stage of my career, it doesn’t really matter who I face, every opponent is playing their A-game.
“A lot of top players have lost. Technically I am not a top player although I have the wins of one.”
Keys and Venus joined the likes of defending champion Garbine Muguruza, world number two Caroline Wozniacki, two-time champion Petra Kvitova and US Open winner Sloane Stephens in falling in the first week.
Also eliminated in the first round was 2004 champion Maria Sharapova.