the legend

joyful rogger fedder

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Serena the reluctant drama queen

Photo Titled Serena Williams close-up
Serena Williams close-up
According to Serena Williams, who knows a thing or two about tennis, the women's game is better than the men's. "It's way more exciting to watch," argues the two-time Wimbledon champion. "We're so passionate, we have so many great personalities – and I mean, it’s way cattier."

It is a quote which sums up much about her continuing appeal. Always quick to fight the corner for women's tennis, at 27 she is one of the game's biggest and most lasting stars, a player of charisma and vast competitive will — yet she retains the capacity to drop an explosive comment at any given moment which is bound to raise an eyebrow or two. Whatever your personal view about the comparative strength of women's tennis, there can be little doubt that the professional game is more interesting with Serena Williams in it.

She arrives at her ninth Wimbledon having amassed another two Grand Slam titles in the last year, bringing her total to 10. She is one of those players who must always be regarded as a major contender whatever the tournament, whatever her seeding. Last year saw her line up opposite older sister Venus in the final, and on the day it was an match with neither giving an inch. Ultimately, the older sister triumphed, putting the Venus in the Venus Rosewater Dish for the fifth time.

Nonetheless, the spotlight continues to follow Serena wherever she goes. At last month’s French Open – where Williams was considered among the favourites before falling to eventual champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in their quarter-final – the hugely respected American magazine Sports Illustrated considered it necessary to highlight Serena’s "penchant for theatrics". After her third round victory over Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, Serena discussed an incident where she was insistent that the winning ball had come off her opponent’s arm rather than her racket – "cheating" as Williams proclaimed it, "stupid" as Martinez Sanchez countered.

"I'm, like, drama, and I don't want to be drama," sighed Serena, as she contemplated the way controversy seems to follow her like a loyal fan. "I’m like one of those girls on a reality show that has all the drama, and everyone in the house hates them because no matter what they do, drama follows them. I don't want to be that girl."

Despite the fact that she has added the 2008 US Open and the 2009 Australian to her Grand Slam haul in the last year, some observers maintain that Serena is not the player she was when she captured the 'Serena Slam', whereby she held all four major titles at once after the Australian of 2003.

Some were especially discomfited last month by the sight of her leading 3-1 in the deciding set against Kuznetsova at Roland Garros before unexpectedly crumbling. In her own words, she "tensed up", and it cost her the chance to go for her third consecutive Slam title. But Williams, naturally, insists she is a far better player than of old.

"The 'Serena now' would definitely beat the 'other Serena'," she says. "I'm older and wiser. I'm just a more mature player. Back then it was more nitty-gritty. Now it's more composed and planned."

Nonetheless it is six years since she won her last Wimbledon. The name Williams is a good bet to appear on the roll of honour again in 2009, but given her sister's near-monopoly of the women's title in recent years, Serena's task in SW19 is daunting.

No comments:

Post a Comment