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'So sad' - Serena mourns baseball legend Aaron

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Tennis great Serena Williams on Monday paid tribute to "legend" Major League Baseball home run king Hank Aaron, saying she wished she could have won a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam before he died.

Aaron, who defied racist hatred to break Babe Ruth's cherished major league home run record, passed away aged 86 last month, sparking an outpouring of grief, including from former US President Barack Obama.

Told by a reporter in Melbourne that she had been on Aaron's mind in his final days, and that he asked when she would win her next major, Williams replied: "Wow. That's wild. That gives me chills.

"Oh, that's -- I wish I could have done it when he was around.

"Growing up, going to school and reading books about him and I never in a lifetime would have dreamt that I would have been on his mind. So that's really amazing."

Williams has 23 Grand Slams titles and needs one more to equal Margaret Court's record 24, with the upcoming Australian Open her next opportunity.

She said she never met Aaron, but wished she had.

"I never met him, but he was obviously a legend growing up, for me, being a first in so many things, and I always thought he was incredibly cool, just legendary status.

"So it was a great loss, it really was. I was so sad to see that happen.

"But his legend will live on, and many people will always know all the wonderful things he did for sport."

Aaron shrugged off death threats to pass the record 714 homers hit by Ruth in 1974, finishing on 755 for his career and becoming a pioneer in front-office opportunities for black players after their careers.

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