Serena Williams returns to Wimbledon


Serena Williams returns to Wimbledon

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WIMBLEDON, England — The stunning soul who walked through the door and steps to the podium in the elegant Wimbledon interview room on Saturday turned out to be Serena Williams, a name that could ring a bell and a presence that lends more emotion to a Wimbledon can complete. Turns out she couldn’t bear the thought of the last Wimbledon being her last Wimbledon.

“It was a lot of motivation, to be honest,” she said of her truncated Wimbledon 2021 as she opened a match on center court, played in the first set with Aliaksandra Sasnovich to a 3-3 score and then lost the footing . felt her right leg give way and disappeared in various forms of pain. “You know, she’s a great champion, and that’s a sad story,” Sasnovich said of that day after her own father told her he’d long dreamed she could face Williams on center court.

The remainder of that Wimbledon, and the long drudgery of the three majors since, has passed without Williams, leaving both curious and rational minds to sense retirement is imminent. But all along, that pathetic No. 111 match of a 23-year Wimbledon career just wasn’t a final and “was always something I’ve been thinking about since that match ended,” Williams said, and something that “Absolutely” worried for a boost through the training drudgery. So here comes Tuesday’s match #112 and 24 year olds in the first round against Harmony Tan, a 24-year-old French woman ranked 113.

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Williams ranks 1,204, making her probably the highest ranked 1,204 player in sports history. She once won an Australian Open (2007) finishing 81st. In doubles with Ons Jabeur at Eastbourne last week and in training she said: “I felt more prepared than I would have thought possible a month or two ago or before three months. Much more.”

She struggled last summer to make the 2021 US Open, she said, but her hamstring protested and it got to a point of realization “I’m not going to make it,” so she “hung up my racquets” and named it was “a serious injury.” (“It wasn’t fun,” she said.) So over the next few months, “I don’t know,” she said. “I haven’t retired. I just needed to heal physically and mentally and yes I had no plans to be honest. I didn’t know when I was going to come back, I didn’t know how I was going to come back and obviously Wimbledon is such a great place and it just worked out.”

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She’s not ready to end her Wimbledon career with an agonizing match record of 98-13, seven titles and four finals appearances, but she’s back at 40, back in singles for the first time since that dismal 3-3 and sounds pretty much after Tiger Woods at the Masters and PGA Championship as that other star assessed his ability to win.

“You know the answer to that,” Williams said when asked what might constitute a good result here.

Amid roaring laughter in the room, she added, “Come on.”

She said: “I have high goals but we’ll see. I will not answer that.”

She exercised that right not to respond in relation to two issues, the US Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision Friday and the All England Club’s April decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players over the invasion of Ukraine from the exclude participation this year. On Roe vs. Wade, she said: “Yeah, I think that’s a very interesting question. I have no thoughts I’m willing to share on this decision.” On Ukraine, she said: “Another heavy issue which, as far as I know, involves a tremendous amount of politics and government and I will refrain from that. “

She spoke fondly of several things: her year that was all but out of the game, her amazement that a film she helped produce (“King Richard”) was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, and her commitment to her work as an investor. “It was very different, honestly,” she said. “Part of me feels like that’s a little bit more of a part of my life now than tournaments,” and she lightly laughed at that.

“When you have a venture company, you have to give it your all, and that’s definitely taking up literally all of my extra time,” she said. “And it is fun. I’ll be out of the office for the next few weeks. If you email me, you’ll get the ‘out of office’ notification,” she aired. “I absolutely love what I do. I love investing in companies. And then the Oscars was really fun, just the whole tour, the whole tour, that whole moment was amazing, being a part of such a great movie was something I just don’t think about. At best, you’re thinking about winning Grand Slams and not being nominated for an Oscar for a film you produced yourself, so it was pretty awesome.”

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When asked about her mental health, she looks at her own longevity, which she now attributes to being prudent about her tournament numbers back then. “Often times I subconsciously think I’m taking breaks,” she said. “I’ve never played as much as the next player in my entire career. And I think that was all subconscious, that I was taking care of myself and knowing how to take care of myself. And a lot of people have to learn that, and I think that was something that my parents built into me, it was already programmed into me, and so it was just something that I’ve always done naturally.

Now she’s 40 and here she is, and as French Open finalist Coco Gauff put it on Saturday: “I think whenever she’s in a tournament she’s always a contender for victory, even if she’s a.” year.” Then, from here, Williams said, “Who knows where I’ll be next? You have to be ready.”

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