Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - The S Train
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The S Train 07/09/2009 - 2:55 PM


by Pete Bodo

Our customary "small group" U.S. writers session with newly crowned Wimbledon champ Serena Williams was postponed on Saturday, in order to better serve Serena and Venus, who had to play the women's doubles final not long after the championship match. We didn't have our little tete-a-tete with Serena until Sunday morning, about 90 minutes before the men's final.

As I walked into the small room we were assigned, Serena was sitting there in that The-Artist-Formerly-Known-As-Prince type waistcoat - all dressed up with nobody to play (unless, of course, she had designs on snatching the racket out of Andy Roddick's paws and having a go at halting Federer's march to his record-shattering 15th major singles title). I said something like: "What? Haven't you had enough for one tournament?"

Serena laughed; she's got a husky, rich laugh that suggests that the humor is coming from her gut, more than her mind, and said she was supposed to play doubles with her agent (Jill Smoller, a former aspiring pro), her hitting partner (I should know his name, but I don't) and a fourth who remained unnamed. Knowing this was Serena organizing the hit-and-giggle session, I had to wonder who that might be? Venus? Too obvious. Pete Sampras? He was still en-route. Barack Obama? Not big enough a name.

Soon we were all gathered around a table with Serena sitting at the head, casting surreptitious glances at her Blackberry-type phone. Was she going to Tweet right in the middle of this conversation, I wondered? Why not - this was probably the 15th media obligation she had following her victory over Venus in a final that secured Serena's 11th major title. That's four titles, not press conferences) short of Federer, not bad for a girl whose life is - and always has been - more complicated and less bee-lined than the male champion's.

Actually, I've arbitrarily decided that the boundary between great female players and merely excellent ones should be 10 Grand Slam wins. This may make fans of Justine Henin and even Venus howl with outrage, but the number makes sense. By contrast, I'd put the boundary between the greatest of male players and those stacked below them in the waiting room of immortality at 6 majors.

One thing I've learned about Serena over the years is that it's impossible to dislike her, or get your shorts all in a bunch over the words that spill from her lips, if you're present in her company. This woman is not just a force of nature, she's a natural. To some degree, she lives on planet Serena, which is not necessarily the same tired rock the rest of us inhabit. She's basically non-linear in her thought processes - she's more of a Goran Ivanisevic or Ilie Nastase than a Chris Evert or Martina Hingis that way - and her basic software package didn't include the self-censoring equivalent to spell check.

There's a lot of Richard Williams in Serena; both of them are expounders and loose cannons, while Venus, severe at the best of times, has raised withholding information to an art form. Serena's mind (and mouth)  run like a train on a parallel track to whatever topic or person she's engaged. She clacks and clatters along, rocking and rolling, occasionally hoving close enough to whatever train is running on the other track for the occupants there to get a quick look inside the windows of Serena's club car. Inevitably, though, she veers off, the tease is over, and you're wondering what more lies behind those smartly curtained panes.

Serena gets in trouble for the things she says, but I hesitate to call it that because "getting in trouble" always presupposes that you got caught doing or saying something and are shortly to pay a price for it. Serena seldom pays a price because even those she's often exasperated have gradually learned that the best, perhaps only, policy regarding Serena is to just throw your hands in the air and accept that this is just how she is. Serena is an entity unto herself.

Serena is no Eliza Doolittle, after all. She has no special desire to please anyone, and nobody is going to teach her the conventions, and she's not in a position to have to embrace them. As awkward or seemingly uncharitable as some of her remarks are, she's become one of those figures who's simply outlasted, out-achieved, and out-foxed those who would shape her into something more palatable to their taste. There's a kind of dignity in that, because the reckless disregard it implies for what we might call "public image" is tonic in a profession with at least one too many specialists fretting over how a player appears to be - rather than how well he or she represents her authentic self.

Turns out that after winning the title and making the obligatory media rounds, Serena repaired to the locker room where she joined the sister whom she just defeated in preparing for their doubles. Venus and Serena watched the men's doubles while they waited in that haven, Serena explaining,  "We wanted to make sure we would play like the Bryan brother." I was glad to see that they didn't, given that the Bryans lost while Venus and Serena won the title.

In the doubles, against the strong team of Slammin' Sammy Stosur and Renee Stubbs, the Williams girls played compelling tennis, and neither they nor their inspired opponents were above firing point-blank missiles at each other. Here's something that bothers me about the lack of exposure for doubles: It means that the vast bulk of matches in which the Williams sisters play together are simply not seen. I can't tell you want a pleasure it is to watch Venus and Serena on a doubles court. They seem so. . . relaxed - so contented and committed to the task at hand. They smack palms, utter encouragements, and hold conferences - meetings so focused that they wouldn't be out of place at Davos, or wherever it is that all those beautiful minds get together to flatter and stroke each other.

That's not what the sisters are doing, of course. They're talking strategy, although knowing the way Serena is, I can also see her changing the subject from cross-court chip returns to something utterly unrelated: Hey, Vee, what's up with daddy running around with that stupid camera, when he can get all the pictures of us that he wants off the Internet?

The sisters really seem to love doubles, and if I were a WTA or ITF honcho I'd want to make sure they get plenty of encouragement to keep doing it for as long as they can. And because Serena leans toward bulk, having half the court to cover would enable her to be a great doubles player for decades to come, even if she immediately embraced the chicken-fried steak and french fries diet. "We were really focused on the doubles," Serena told us. "They (Stosur and Stubbs) really picked up their level but we really wanted to win. Venus wanted to leave with a title, like I did last year. She wanted to have something to take home with her."

You gotta love someone to whom a trophy is still a trophy, not some giant and absurdly ornate goblet symbolizing nothing more than the inevitable inflow of another $3 million in endorsement money. These girls really like the thing in itself, which is touching. In fact, they have their silver and gold booty stashed all over at their various homes. "Everywhere I look there's a Wimbledon trophy, and tons of US Open ones," Serena admitted. "Lately I've been putting mine in LA, while Venus has I don't know how many of her Wimbledon trophies in Florida. And now all of these doubles trophies. . ."

She sounded rather like a pretty young thing, complaining - not at all convincingly - about having the attention of too many men.

This has been a great run for Serena. As she said, "About a year ago I had eight Grand Slam titles, who would have thought that I'd now have 11?"

Well, quite a few people Serena, for the one thing people have figured out about you is that it's easy to underestimate your abilities. El Jon Wertheim asked Serena if she took any pleasure in changing the staid culture at Wimbledon, and she replied: "Today it was a little stuffy in the Royal area. Someone said, 'Wait, you have to wait for the Duke to pass. . .'  I was like, 'I don't belong in here.' But I've never been like everyone else, and I think it's cool. In general, even going somewhere in LA or Florida, I don't like to look like everyone else. I like to look different."

Of her extraordinary ability to respond to the Grand Slam event challenge, Serena said: "I've always been this kind of person that excels, even in school, when the tests and exams come. I was always the best at getting the right answers and doing the right preparation. You can't buy (that innate ability to win), you have to be born with it." 

All matters of Serena's abilities as a scholar and their relation to her talent for beating the tar out of anyone who crosses her path at a major aside, her current run brings back memories of 2002-03, the years of the "Serena Slam," when she at one point held all four titles in her hand. Is she playing as well? Does she appreciate what she's accomplishing a little more deeply, now that she's older and more familiar with adversity?

"That's a good question. . ." She thought for a moment. "I can't say it came easy back then. I definitely worked for it, but I didn't go running or go to the gym as much. It wasn't as intense." She reflected again: "Actually I did go to the gym, so I take it back. I was super fit. The skills came back (now)(, maybe that's it."

We were still staring at the window but the S train seemed to be pulling off and way from us. We craned our necks. How come she's only done well in Grand Slams for the past three or so years?

"I just think that I need to get more consistent with smaller tournaments and be more. . . serious . . " Before she even finished the sentence, she burst into a hearty, decidedly un-serious laugh.

Suddenly, a note of self chastisement, or perhaps it was just mystification, crept into her voice: "I don't have that many titles, thirty something. I think Kim (Clijsters) still has more titles than me. I really want to win the other ones, I really don't know how I lose them! That's one way '03 was better. I was winning all of them."

She seemed to lose interest in the topic and glanced at the screen of her phone. The S train was almost gone now, all that was left was the lantern blinking in the jaunty caboose.

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Posted by VC 07/09/2009 at 03:06 PM

Hilarious photo. Great article. Liked this part a lot :

"Serena is no Eliza Doolittle, after all. She has no special desire to please anyone, and nobody is going to teach her the conventions, and she's not in a position to have to embrace them. As awkward or seemingly uncharitable as some of her remarks are, she's become one of those figures who's simply outlasted, out-achieved, and out-foxed those who would shape her into something more palatable to their taste. There's a kind of dignity in that, because the reckless disregard it implies for what we might call "public image" is tonic in a profession with at least one too many specialists fretting over how a player appears to be - rather than how well he or she represents her authentic self."

Posted by greenhopper 07/09/2009 at 03:14 PM

"her hitting partner (I should know his name, but I don't)"
He's called Sasha something.

Interesting read. Thanks, Pete.

Posted by Master Ace 07/09/2009 at 03:19 PM

Think you are correct on Serena's hitting partner,Sasha.

Very good article as we know Serena does have an unique way of expressing her opinions no matter who is around. As the Williams Sisters said earlier in the fortnight that they played doubles to win not to practice as some single players are known to do. Speaking of doubles, Saturday is a very good day where it get some much needed attention and most of the time, the doubles are the "swing" match of the tie.

Posted by Pspace 07/09/2009 at 03:26 PM

Nice one, Pete. Fyi, here's a link about Re's hitting partner, Aleksander Bajin who goes by Sasha:

Posted by Cayman Karen (as defined by Ruth and Master Ace) 07/09/2009 at 03:34 PM

Very good article Pete. Had me rolling with laughter as I could actually "see' and "hear" Serena's laughter through that interview. I do hope that she starts to focus on the smaller tournaments as that way, all fans will be able to appreciate her talents and realise that she is not just a Grand Slam champion as some have christened her (as if winning majors is ever a bad thing). I hope I get to see all the top ladies in action in Toronto this summer *says fervent prayer to the Tennis Gods.

Posted by Samantha Elin(supporter of all things Scandinavian.) 07/09/2009 at 03:46 PM

Great article Pete, the real Serena comes across. She doesn't really care what others think of her. She's so cool because she's herself. I think the reason why she doesn't win the smaller tourneys is what Lena D said. She just doesn't put has much effort in them, but really fights hard when it comes to the slams. I think she knows that this is how a player is measured by and this is what is important in tennis. On the faster surfaces, Venus is her biggest threft. I don't really like doubles, but I will watch the Williamses because they look like they're having a great time out there. I do think that they should be ranked higher so that they don't run into the number 1 titles team early who they seem to have no problems beating.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 07/09/2009 at 03:47 PM

Thanks for the interesting yet simple article on Serena. I agree with VC above on that statement that captured the essence of Serena. As a fan, I usually cringe after she loses or wins because all I am waiting for next is how ungracious, uncouth, etc she is because she lost. But many at times I have found after reading some (not all) of the pressers in which she is described as ungracious by singling out comments or splicing comments, she has in her own way been gracious but because the accepted norm is she is NEVER gracious those things she says go unnoticed. the one that I hold dearest to my heart is the *lucky shots* one.

Like Karen I would like Serena to play in and win smaller tournaments because she can. But like I have said before even in the year 02-03 when she did win both big and small, she still did her way never playing more than a specific number of tournaments so I doubt that at this later stage and age she can do that with the number of tournaments she is expected to play. There would be some that she would definitely not do well in but hopefully she will win some more besides the GSs.

meanwhile this part had me cracking up as it shows Serena thinking on the move ;-)

"Does she appreciate what she's accomplishing a little more deeply, now that she's older and more familiar with adversity?

"That's a good question. . ." She thought for a moment. "I can't say it came easy back then. I definitely worked for it, but I didn't go running or go to the gym as much. It wasn't as intense." She reflected again: "Actually I did go to the gym, so I take it back. I was super fit. The skills came back (now)(, maybe that's it.""

Posted by Aussiemarg Madame President finally comes out of rehab and rejoices in Vamos Forever 07/09/2009 at 03:49 PM

Pete great thoughts on Serena,gee how could anyone dislike her at all.

Life is great living on Planet Serena period.

Posted by the fan child 07/09/2009 at 03:52 PM

Okay, 10 Slams it is, I guess Justine will have to read this and come out of retirement now...

Posted by Samantha Elin(supporter of all things Scandinavian.) 07/09/2009 at 03:57 PM

It is so rare for a player to hold 3 of the 4 GS at the same time, I mean you can count the players on l hand who have done this particularly for the women. I think some of the resentment of Serena comes from people who don't like to see her winning all the big trophies. The same is true for Roger. Success sometimes breeds resentment and envy. Go Caro, Scandinavia's#1, World's#9.

Posted by creig bryan 07/09/2009 at 03:57 PM

Gracias, Pete. Nice words to some up the Serenigma.

Keep Smiling

Posted by Game Lover 07/09/2009 at 03:57 PM

Justine Henin is the definition of a great tennis player not "10 slams" lol

And not necesarelly related to Serena, here is a 17 year old tennis player, Simona Halep that had surgery to have ...smaller breasts, because the large size she had before was causing her back pains:

According to the article, all what's left for her to do now is to focus on her tennis career.

Posted by Samantha Elin(supporter of all things Scandinavian.) 07/09/2009 at 04:04 PM

Justine was the player that gave Serena the most trouble because she hit off speed balls and was great mixing it up. Justine took Serena out of three grand slams, including Wimbledon, very few can claim this. Serena loves the flat, hard, power balls hit by players like Sharapova, Safina and Azaranka. They play right into her strengths.

Posted by Samantha Elin(supporter of all things Scandinavian.) 07/09/2009 at 04:07 PM

Serena on Juju, "she gave me a lot of trouble." She sure did! Go Justine, forever in my heart, always my number 1.

Posted by VC 07/09/2009 at 04:08 PM

"Justine was the player that gave Serena the most trouble because she hit off speed balls and was great mixing it up. Justine took Serena out of three grand slams, including Wimbledon, very few can claim this."

Henin winning the 2007 US Open beating both Williamses was the ATP equivalent of someone winning a Slam beating both Federer and Nadal along the way.

Posted by Mr. X 07/09/2009 at 04:09 PM

Great article, Pete. A train, indeed.
1st thing: if Barack Obama dared to face Serena on a tennis court, i would really fear for the guy:)
2nd: do you think you could elaborate on why you put the limits for greatness for men and women in that number of Slams, or it's something like saying "well, you have to put the limit somewhere"?
I think the best way to explain how Serena feels about the comments on her and the way she expresses herself in press conferences could be: she doesnt give a damn.
I dont know why, but maybe she was as serious when she said that she wants to win the other ones as she was when she said "Safina deserves to be No.1, she won Rome and Madrid"
I remember watching the sisters playing doubles in the Olympic final against the Spanish girls, and completely destroying them. Throughout the whole match, it seemed that they were having a lot of fun.

Posted by Naydal 07/09/2009 at 04:18 PM

It's amazing anyone is at all interested in the WTA...

Posted by Marsh Harrier 07/09/2009 at 04:23 PM

I've said it before and I'll say it again:

Serena Williams is the product of steroid abuse. Yes, she has natural gifts for striking tennis balls with rackets, without drugs she would probably still be one of the best (assuming no one else was to be taking PEDs). But her body is not natural and now her competitors' bodies aren't either (do you really believe Dementieva bulked out the way she has, in the time she has, from throwing a few medicine balls about in gymns?!). Do you really think a 15 year old Bulgarian (who did fail a steroid test) is the only woman in the field taking them? And why do you think she was taking them?

It's obscene and Serena is a sick symptom of a disease that is infecting the whole women's game.

Posted by Samantha Elin(supporter of all things Scandinavian.) 07/09/2009 at 04:24 PM

Well Ok.

Posted by Master Ace 07/09/2009 at 04:29 PM

For once, can we have a decent discussion here without doping allegations on a player that won a major title. When Rafael won consistently in 2008 and 2009 and Roger,who won on Sunday, was talked about in Pete's post yesterday, this subject came up. Now, there is another accusation on a player who won Saturday. So far, there is NO evidence of doping on the players so far accused of doing it in 2008 or 2009. Once there is evidence of doping, please present facts and not accusations.

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/09/2009 at 04:31 PM

Hey all. :)

What can I say but LOL? I almost felt Serena was in the room with me, chuckling away. For me she's just impossible not to love.

I watched the doubles on Saturday and that was just how it was...adorable. :)

Posted by John Baldwin 07/09/2009 at 04:33 PM

I take great offense to Marsh Harrier comments. The reason why Serena's body is like that is because that is how some black women are shaped. Just because she was blessed with different genes than all of the rest of the players doesn't mean that she is taking steroids. I find it very ignorant and shallow to claim that someone is taking steroids because they have a different body type than everyone else. Tennis is one of the most regulated sports when its comes to doping. So Marsh before you make dump comments please do your research.

Posted by jewell - Campaign for Fedal Disarmament 07/09/2009 at 04:33 PM

With Master Ace.

Posted by John Baldwin 07/09/2009 at 04:42 PM

Thank you Master Ace for your comments.

Posted by John Baldwin 07/09/2009 at 04:42 PM

Thank you Master Ace for your comments.

Posted by Hart 07/09/2009 at 04:44 PM

**beats head against wall**

+1 Master Ace

Posted by Samantha Elin(supporter of all things Scandinavian.) 07/09/2009 at 05:01 PM

Hi Patrick, I don't think anybody pay Marsh any attention/he or she always makes these accusation and it's good for a laugh or too. Can't wait for the USO, love the excitement that only a slam can bring. Go Caro, Scandinavia's#1!

Posted by Master Ace 07/09/2009 at 05:25 PM

Samantha Elin,
I do not think some posters do not pay attention to what is said but it seems like it is said when a person won a major title in a red meat post that is supposed to discuss that player's great achievement. Now, will Serena be able to defend her title at the United States Open? If so, do you know that will be the only 2nd time she has defended a Slam since 2002-2003 Wimbledon?

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 07/09/2009 at 05:32 PM

Master Ace - I wish I could say she will defend the USO of course I want her to) but like you mentioned based on her record, I'll say the chances are slimmer than would be expected.

Sam Elin - Do you know that up until 2007 Wimbledon, Justine had not defeated Serena on any surface other than clay? So for her to have done it on all surfaces at three GSs was really impressive for her and new territory for Serena hence her acknowledging truthfully that Justine gave her trouble.

Posted by charles 07/09/2009 at 05:32 PM

I heartily disagree with the 10 slams thing... I think it should be anything 7 or higher, otherwise you're cutting out Lenglen and Connolly (arguably the greatest of all time) not to mention Seles (and Bueno, Henin, and VWilliams)
SmithCourt 24
Graf 22
WillsMoody 19
Evert 18
Navratilova 18
BJKing 12
SWilliams 11
Connolly 9
Seles 9
Lenglen 8 (12 if you include pre 1925 French or World Hardcourt titles)
BjurstedtMallory 8
Henin 7
VWilliams 7
Goolagong 7
Bueno 7
DouglassChambers 7

then 6 or less
Brough 6
Hart 6
OsborneDuPont 6
WynneBolton 6
Gibson 5
Marble 5
CooperSterry 5
Jacobs 5
Dod 5
Hingis 5
there are others, especially from the early days, doing this from memory so might have made some mistakes...

Posted by Samantha Elin(supporter of all things Scandinavian.) 07/09/2009 at 05:34 PM

No, I didn't know that, it seems kind of odd for a player who had such a great career. I think she stands a great chance of defending. This has to be her best year in a long time, holding 3 GSs.

Posted by jb (waiting for DC!) 07/09/2009 at 05:44 PM

This was a very fun read Pete. The sisters William are just SO different, and yet when you do get an opportunity to see them play doubles, they are also so connected.

Serena is definately law unto herself. It will be interesting to see if she stays focused. its funny, with the men you can slams/ regular tourneys have the difference in the best of 3 best of 5 sets; but there's no differentiation for the women.

What is it about the slams that has her coming out ready to rumble? What is it that enables her to flip the switch and do so well in the biggest moments? Maybe its cause she is such a drama queen, that she only performs at her best on the largest stages. :)

Posted by Samantha Elin(supporter of all things Scandinavian.) 07/09/2009 at 05:46 PM

Avid, I'm thinking about the great rivalry that Justine and Serena could have had, that would have been awesome to watch their contrasting styles. Today,, it's a joke to see other players trying to over power Serena. Like beating her at her game, it rarely works. But Justine could finess her

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 07/09/2009 at 05:53 PM

Samantha - You are right that there would have been a rivalry and a great one too. In fact, I think Serena played more differently when she was playing Justine and not just the power alone. That is one of of the reasons I liked their matches cos it brought out more in both players. The scores of some of them do not tell the whole story of the matches. Also during Wimbledon this year there was so much more of Serena other than power.

Posted by Samantha Elin(supporter of all things Scandinavian.) 07/09/2009 at 05:58 PM

Right Avid, I remember J-mac saying that Borg made him a better player and the same was true for Serena. She knew with Justine she had to do more than just the power game. That slice that she uses sometimes was developed when she had to face Queen Justine. In the same way, Roger knew that he had to be better if he wanted to beat Rafa. Great rivalries force players to go beyond their own safe game.

Posted by tommy 07/09/2009 at 06:00 PM

There's an excellent chance Serena wins the USO.
Serena has not won a major with Henin in the draw in over 6 years.
So it's not a surprise that when Henin retired, Serena started winning majors again. Serena had won 2 majors in over 5 years after Wimbledon 2003, both of those with Henin not there. Henin retires, and Serena is the best player.

When Seles was stabbed, Graf became the best player. No Rafa, Fed wins everything. No Henin, Serena starts winning majors with frequency

Posted by Samantha Elin(supporter of all things Scandinavian.) 07/09/2009 at 06:03 PM

Tommy, a fantastic points on Serena's achievements ONLY after Justine retired. Coincidence? I don't think so. So many good points Tommy.

Posted by Samantha Elin(supporter of all things Scandinavian.) 07/09/2009 at 06:05 PM

The Serena fans might not like it, but everything Tommy said is the truth. Go Justine!

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 07/09/2009 at 06:11 PM

Samantha Elin - It is true but it is the part truth. The reason why points like this are unnecessary in that there is always a counter argument. Also it leads to trying to diminish one player to lift the other. For instance by the same token one could argue that Justine was also there when Serena won her first 6 majors right and Justine did not stop her then and she is about 9 months younger than Serena.

Posted by jb (waiting for DC!) 07/09/2009 at 06:21 PM

samantha > 'Avid, I'm thinking about the great rivalry that Justine and Serena could have had, that would have been awesome to watch their contrasting styles. Today,, it's a joke to see other players trying to over power Serena. Like beating her at her game, it rarely works. But Justine could finess her'

justine was also one of the few players who was mentally tough enough to go toe to toe with serena. masha is another I think. Sigh, i would dearly love to see justine still playing, but am glad that she seems happy.

I'll have to pin my hopes on Masha getting fit again, and if not, I won't count out other players developing.

Though i do NOT think that allowing coaching on court is doing anything to develop mental giants on court, in fact just the opposite.

and on that note - i need to go to dinner. sorry for posting and running!

Posted by Ruth 07/09/2009 at 06:32 PM

Ah, Peter, you troublemaker! :) I disagree with you about the excellence/greatness boundary in Slams. I think that the number of Slams marking that boundary should be the same for men as it is for women.

As long as we're talking about women vs women and men vs men and as long as men and women have the same number of opportunities to play the same number of Slams each year, there should be no difference in the number needed to cross the boundary from mere excellence to greatness.

I'm glad that Venus and Serena emphasized that they were in the doubles contest to win, not just to sharpen their games. As a doubles fan, I get a little upset when players talk more about how the doubles "helps" them with their singles (the utilitarian aspect of playing doubles) than they do about doubles as a very important part of the tennis scene with its own intrinsic value.

Posted by Samantha Elin(supporter of all things Scandinavian.) 07/09/2009 at 06:37 PM

JB, I would agree that Sharapova is mentally very tough, an excellent player, but I'm not sure that her style of game, she hit a hard, flat ball with a lot of power matches up well with Serena. Even prior to her injury she had problems with Serena. I don't think it's an accident that she hasn't beaten Serena in close to five years and has a 2-5 H2H against Serena. Some of their matches haven't been very competitive. This has to do with the type of game Sharapova plays. Again, I think Serena has problems with players who can change the pace of the ball and mix up the shots. Players where she has to generate her own pace is where she has problems. Jankovic who plays with minimium power is a player who used to give Serena a lot of problems. I don't think she has problems with power hitters, I think she thrives on them and prefer a ball hit at her very hard. But good luck to Sharapova in her recovery. Do I think she's a threft to Serena, no, because of her style of game.

Posted by Sarah 07/09/2009 at 06:41 PM

"Success sometimes breeds resentment and envy. Go Caro, Scandinavia's#1, World's#9" (Samantha Elin)...and obviously false nationalistic pride when Wozniacki is 100% Polish and Scandinavia is not a country LOL !!!

Posted by VC 07/09/2009 at 06:44 PM

About the Slam qualification boundary, I think we might start seeing large Slam counts on the ATP side also in the future (I think 10+ Slams will not be such an exclusive club). This is partly because of the homogenization of surfaces and corresponding decline in surface specialists. Federer has a 21-semi streak going, Djokovic and Nadal had 5. Sampras's best was 3.

After Sampras raised the bar to 14, I certainly didn't think the mark would last only 6 years. Federer seems to be poised to shatter the glass ceiling. Nadal is ahead of where Federer was at the corresponding age. I can see more male players in the future believing they can achieve big totals.

Posted by Samantha Elin(supporter of all things Scandinavian.) 07/09/2009 at 06:47 PM

If you say so Sarah.

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 07/09/2009 at 06:55 PM

Thanks Pete. ReRe's growin on me lately I must admit.
Master Ace, you are spot on as always.

Sarah @ 6:41, Sam Elin is rightly proud of Caro, leave her alone.

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 07/09/2009 at 07:02 PM

congrats to serena on her great seeason, but if a few new women dont step up soon, the women's game is going down, the Williams sisters cant carry the whole sport alone and contest every Slam final, its a great story but there's zero drama in a sisters finale, except among their hardcore fan base...

i know this ruffles a few feathers among the Serena fans but Ive never seeen the women's game so weak at the top, talk about a weak era! and that reporter should have stood his ground re Safina, really hard to see 20,000 fans showing up to see her play a final, given her track record...

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 07/09/2009 at 07:04 PM

Henin really messed up womens tennis, retiring SO young... the best women's Slam in ages was the one where Henin beat both sisters re route to the Open title, it was a lousy final but great drama en route, thats for sure...

Posted by sblily (Meh > Wheeeee!!!/Vamos Maymo!) 07/09/2009 at 07:34 PM

Pspace - Thx for the link re: Sasha. That was a fun read.

I'm another one who likes watching Vee and Serena play dubs. They complement each other well in those matches - Vee seems a little meaner and Serena is more relaxed. Win-win. :)

Posted by Samantha Elin(supporter of all things Scandinavian.) 07/09/2009 at 07:34 PM

Tim, you know you love the WTA. LOL. Tim, even you have to admit the Dementieva/Serena was a GREAT match, full of drama. Go Caro, Scandinavia's#1, world's#9!

Posted by Master Ace 07/09/2009 at 07:57 PM

Justine did win 7 Slams but Serena did not play in 4 of them due to injuries and personal issues.

Justine Henin titles
French Open 2003 - Stopped Serena Slam in semifinals
United States Open 2003 - Serena did not play
Australian Open 2004 - Serena did not play
French Open 2005 - Serena did not play
French Open 2006 - Serena did not play
French Open 2007 - Defeated Serena in quarterfinals
United States Open 2007 - Defeated Serena in quarterfinals

Avid has a very valid point that Justine was there when Serena won her first 6 Slams and Tommy had a valid point on Serena only winning 2 Australian Open when Justine finally won her first Slam. Now, Serena has won 3 out of the last 4 Slams played.

Serena Williams titles
Australian Open - 2003,2005,2007,2009
French Open - 2002
Wimbledon - 2002,2003,2009
United States Open - 1999,2002,2008

Very interesting comparison and viewpoints

Posted by Christopher 07/09/2009 at 08:47 PM

I'd agree with the high slam threshold for women up until, say, the mid 90's. Up until the late 80's, the women's game had considerably less depth than the men's, with the first 4 rounds of a slam being utterly routine for the top 5 seeds most of the time. At this point I think the the men's and women's games are pretty close in terms of depth (indeed, Fed and Rafa are an even more dominant pair than Chris and Martina were) and for the post-Graf generation seven is a more reasonable cut-off.

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 07/09/2009 at 08:56 PM

wade-goolagong playing evert-king on Tennis Channel, great doubles played the old fashioned way...ah the days when swing volleys didnt exist and they serve volleyed on every point!

Posted by Rob S. 07/09/2009 at 09:21 PM

I lost my taste for Serena's - to put it mildly - "self involvement" some time ago. It's so painfully obvious that anyone not related to her in some way shape or form deserves little attention, let alone respect. As Pete points out here, she makes no effort to hide it, which I suppose is genuine in its way, but it is far beyond dignified. On the contrary, it's a bit distasteful.

I do not begrudge her any wins she has had along the way, as they are impressive in merit and number - but she has no fan in me because she has little respect for the sport that we all love here. Her sister is far more of an exemplar when it comes to comporting oneself like a champion. But, Serena's wins gainsay any model that Venus could be.

Posted by Really tired of typing in a new moniker 07/09/2009 at 09:32 PM

Good evening All. Glad to see that someone else was watching that doubles match on TC. Tim, did you notice that Billie was grunting while serving? Not a big grunt, more like a little exhalation of air, but it made a sound. Also, did you notice her one-handed backhand volley. Reminds me so much of Venus' backhand volley.
In relation to the present discussion, I agree with Christopher (at least I hope so) when he says that there is an equal amount of depth in the women's field as the men's field. I also love seeing the WS playing doubles as it is something new for fans of the game to cheer about. It would be nice if more singles players did play doubles, and as a matter of fact I recall that in this year's Wimby there were quite a number of women singles players who were playing doubles. I think one of the issues that I read in relation to players playing both singles and doubles, especially on the women's side is the matter of convenience. At the AO and Wimby, it is apparently more convenient, schedule wise for players to play both singles and doubles. The USO is the worst because of how the facility is set up, as well as the commute that players have to go through to get to the stadium. As regards Serena herself, I think like MA said, she is a law unto herself and she just does her own thing.
@Naydal - yes women's tennis is boring, so why are you here?
@Marsh Harrier - at some point in time the Moderators should block you, or someone will sue you for defaming them by implying and/or inferring that they are taking steroids. Just watch.

Posted by Shannon 07/09/2009 at 10:34 PM

I'd say Monica Seles is a definate exclusion to your idea that your not an excellent tennis player if you haven't won 10 grand slams. Monica could've and would've won 20!

Posted by jb... (waiting for DC) 07/09/2009 at 10:39 PM

samantha - i'm not thinking that masha, should her game and serve come back, would dominate serena, but i do think she could battle for titles with her. some she'd win, some she'd lose, but she wouldn't implode. I think that's what I'd like to have happen.

There'd be some fun matches! ah well, we gonna see, no? :)

Posted by Lee 07/09/2009 at 10:43 PM

After reading this article I don't like Serena anymore than I did yesterday, which is unfortunate because I want to support her so badly, but I just can't. Interesting interview though, I was wondering what goes on in that mind of hers.

Posted by Ruth 07/09/2009 at 10:58 PM

This doubles match on TC is fantstic. None of that powderpuff stuff with these women!

Posted by Ruth 07/09/2009 at 11:08 PM

It would be interesting to find out what percentages of the Slams they actually played in were won by Serena and the other players who won big numbers of Slams.

Posted by Bobby 07/09/2009 at 11:24 PM

I love this piece -- it has lots of interesting observations ("Serena seldom pays a price because...") and loads of humor ("she sounded rather like a pretty young thing..."). One thing I don't like? I think Pete's holding out on us about the fourth for doubles! And I dare say... I think someone might have a small crush on Miss S. Williams? Pete and Serena... sitting in a tree... :)

Posted by Tigerlily 07/09/2009 at 11:38 PM

Interesting read, but not because of what was written but because what was left unsaid.

I believe that the media let's Serena get away with too much. I was saddened by how Serena made fun of Safina's #1 ranking, and while I don't really believe Safina has had the success to really represent want a number one should be, that's how the ranking goes. It's funny that so many people are quick to point out that Federer was arrogant and not very tactful when putting the now infamous '15' jacket, but I haven't seen a lot of posts dedicated to Serena's awful remarks. Just recently, at the French Open, the on court mic caught Serena saying "Well she better not come near the net again” in her victory over Maria Jose Martinez. Of course, in true Serena style, which Bodo seems to really appreciate, rather than apologizing she made fun of the situation, alluding to the fact that she comes from Compton.

I dont want to make this comment another plea for Federer's defense, because I know it's over and done with, and now we are talking about Serena. But after reading both pieces it's uncanny how Bodo measures Federer's with one yardstick, and Serena with a far more lenient one. Federer's been very very criticized for how he handled his win over Roddick, the '15' jacket and even the gold man purse. I am the first to admit that it was a tad tacky, but i also think if Federer had known how much backlash it would generate, he might have not participated on it. Bodo says that "it's impossible to dislike her (Serena), or get your shorts all in a bunch over the words that spill from her lips, if you're present in her company." Really? How can I like a person that sits in a press conference and openly and intentionally disses a fellow player? I remember years ago, when Hingis used to often comment that playing again the William Sisters was like playing with a man. It was a very very derogatory comment, and very "un-number one like". How ironic it is that Serena claims to be the real number one, and has the nerve to bully one of her fellow players, when she too has been the victim of such actions.

Arrogance presents itself in both words and actions, and although I come from the 'dont hate appreciate" mentality, but both Fed and Serena should be judged by the same standards since both are succesful, both have been dominant over the years and have held the number one ranking. Serena is a talented player with the resume and skills to back most of her unfortunate comments. I hope it's not because the fact that she wasn't one of the "lucky ones", the reason she gets away with it.

Many worry how the Jacket-gate is gonna hurt people's perception of Federer, while I worry how Serena's words and attitude are gonna hurt people's perception of the game.

Posted by Deuce 07/09/2009 at 11:49 PM

Thanks for the article Pete. I'm one of the many who have found Serena's attitide off-putting at times and I agree with your analogy. She is definately more her father's daughter and Venus definately has Orancene's calm. Regardless, what Serena has done is remarkable. Regarding her putting in more of a consistent effort throughtout the year I think we won't see it happen. At this point she is wise to peak for certain majors. She has been prone to knee problems in the past and I believe if she were to truly embrace the dail grind from tournament to tournament she would be risking a serios injur.

Posted by Samantha Elin(supporter of all things Scandinavian.) 07/10/2009 at 05:48 AM

jb, I totally agree that their matches would be fun because they both want it so much and are so tough mentally. Hopefully Maria can get her level back up to what it used to be prior to her injury. I think Serena can be a lighting Rod for people. She stirs strong emotions in people. I don't really buy the oh she was so mean to poor Dinara because I remember what Dinara said about her friend Kuzzy after she loss the FO to her. I've found that many players at this level can be arrogant and full of themself. Like Dinara with her, "it's hard te beat me even when I play badly." Roger is the same way, when he lost to Canas, he mentioned Canas drug suspension. They all have big heads, fame and money does that to a lot of people. Patrick, I would agree that during the early part of their rivalry, the Williams dominated Justine, but after she trained with Etchelberry, gaining more power and a better serve and started to win slam, she gain the edge in the competition. Her knocking Serena out of 3 slams in the late part of their rivalry is evident of this fact. You know with Serena the people who don't like her alway lies and say she never has anything good to say about a player other than Venus. When I have heard her say many good thing about other players such as how good Caro was and the school that she opened in Africa for poor kids certainly out weights anything she has ever said because that is action which is stronger than words. Beside Dinara has only herself to blame if people doubt if she is the real #1. Her choking away finals isn't Serena's fault. I like her and think she's great for the game. Well, I'm off to watch Caro, the 1OO% polish girl who paints her nails with the Danish flag and talks about how much she is proud to be a Dane. And crazy on me for thinking this girl is Scandinavian when Denmark is in Scandinavia.

Posted by tina 07/10/2009 at 06:21 AM

@ Tigerlily: Safina, the nominal number 1, is not a little girl who must be coddled and "protected" - and indeed, she's been known to get more than a little miffed in pressers, and gets away with a lot of snarky comments, too.

Posted by Ruth 07/10/2009 at 06:49 AM

In my contining efforts to help put out the FACTS...

Tigerlily: There were just as many comments at TW and elsewhere blasting Serena for her comments related to her being #2 as there were blasting Federer for how he said he felt when he was announced as the #2 player instead of the #1 and other comments deemed arrogant by others. (Same goes for Dinara's comment about why other women players are so jealous about her #1 ranking.)

Their comments came from the same depths of jock-dom that some people (like me) shrug off and tolerate in ALL athletes/jocks while other people (like ???) tolerate such comments when their current favorites make them.

To which group of people do you belong? I can probably guess, based on which comments you happened to see and which you say that you didn't see. :)

Posted by tina 07/10/2009 at 07:12 AM

thanks, Ruth! (And hello, there!)

Posted by Ruth 07/10/2009 at 07:15 AM

Hi, tina. You never told me what good stuff you were cooking -- and where. You know how much I depend on enjoying your cooking vicariously. :)

Posted by tina 07/10/2009 at 08:29 AM

I'm in Croatia at the moment - but might be returning Stateside soon, due to a questionable MRI - and have been cooking a lot of brudet, which is the Dalmatian version of vichysoise, I suppose, though it's hot. Fish stew, with no ingredients from outside this island. And while I am currently a bit preoccupied, last week (pre-MRI) I did make a great black risotto. The only thing not grown on the island - and I must buy in Split - is celery, but that's neither in brudet nor "crni rizot". (I think comments were long closed by the time I saw your question on whichever thread. So there you go.)

Posted by Ruth 07/10/2009 at 08:51 AM

Thanks, tina. I haven't had breakfast yet, but I must do that now to be ready for USA vs Croatia in 1 hr, 10 mins. So, I'll pretend I'm enjoying your brudet instead of eating wheat toast and scrambled egg whites. :)

I'll e-mail you soon.

Posted by Ren (reality is, its 15!) 07/10/2009 at 09:04 AM

I just love Serena's candidness which oftentimes leaves her in a frying pan. But, what gives! She speaks her mind, and that's what really matters! No hypocrisy at all!

Posted by yello fuzzy 07/10/2009 at 09:22 AM

Serena is her fathers daughter for sure, but she is also a child of her environment, not just home, but her work environment. I have always resented certain things written by El Jon about Richard Williams and his 'unfortunate' comments, but the likes of El Jon, never had to face some of the cultural nonsense, that Richard Williams had to live with. He earned his bitterness and thats not going to dissipate because El Jon thinks we are all civilized now. He raised his daughters with the love and a certain expectation of unfairness and a knowledge of the universal disrespect, that people that look like them may have to endure. As we all know Serena got to watch Venus enter this extremely segregated world of tennis and make her way up the ranks. In the biggest moment of her career, the semifinal at Venus's first US open, the infamous bump on the changeover with Irena Spirlea occurred. What do you think Serena was thinking watching that, maybe some of the bitterness Richard emanates took hold in her. We know how close and protective the sisters are and we know Serena is a fierce and forceful competitor, imagine her protecting something she loves. Fast forward to Indian Wells, again what Richard is giving off vicariously ,becomes a real world situation. There's no denying the vitriol and the hate displayed by that crowd toward two young women, trying to participate in the american dream. (not to mention how IW figures into the #1 ranking controversy today) There are numerous other examples, shot spot, Henins hand...
It's very interesting , during the French Open, when there was all this hand-wringing about the french crowd booing, not loving (or whatever) Rafa, it was Federer that said , Serena had it much worse at Indian Wells.
Serena has been winning slams, and the male writers are constantly talking about her weight. Have they never seen a black women!? Pete mentions it here, and Tingor is still pushing the Serena threatened her opponent with a beatdown in the locker room story, another writer wrote that Serena has the most unnecessary and loudest scream in women tennis.
So you can call it opinion, or hate, or journalism, but most of it is opinion and even the stretching of the truth in some cases. I am sure Richard Williams sees a lot of what I mentioned as proof that the world , for the most part is still practicing what he's been preaching.

Posted by Babe 07/10/2009 at 09:43 AM

Let's not get carried away with the Justine Serena 07 nonsense. The fact is that Justine deserves credit because she took advantage of the situation & of Serena's condition. Taking away the 07 French--the other two wins could have been accomplished by just about any body in the top tier. Serena had fallen during the previous match & had wrenched her thumb, taking away her backhand & she had a hamstring injury--something that actually began before the French that year.

Unfortunately--as a result of both injuries--she was unable to play any matches between Wimbledon & the US Open. So, yes, Justine won those matches, but given her history with Serena on nonclay surfaces, too much is attributed to those wins. But, I think it gives Justine's fans something to rejoice over so that's fine.

I will also just recall that the last match they played, when Serena was fully fit--she beat Justine 2 & 0.

Posted by BillyBob 07/10/2009 at 10:19 AM

I think the point is that the most interesting match-up is women's tennis on many levels was: Serena vs. Justine, all over power vs. all court finesse -not to mention is was quite apparent they couldn't stand each other. Good stuff.

Posted by Babe 07/10/2009 at 10:41 AM

Billy Bob--Justine had the slice---but she eventually went to an ALL-POWER game. Serena may be powerful, but a common misconception is that she is all power. She isn't. She uses a variety of spins & shots to win. Lindsay Davenport & a few other players have said that the biggest difficulty in playing Serena is the difficulty in anticipating the type of shot she will hit.

Many opponents can match Serena power-for-power, but it is those subtle vatieties that make the difference.

Posted by Master Ace 07/10/2009 at 10:46 AM

2008 Key Biscayne is where Serena played well that day and went on to win the title. She should have won that one in straight sets over Jelena Jankovic but her concentration dipped.

Yello Fuzzy,
Good post at 9:22 AM. As Pete posted in the opening, Serena is only 4 Slams behind Roger but that does not get mainstream attention. Jason Whitlock in his article for FOX blasted Serena's weight and called her an underachiever. If I refind that article, I will post it here.

Posted by Master Ace 07/10/2009 at 10:52 AM

Jason Whitlock's article on Serena:

Posted by Master Ace 07/10/2009 at 10:54 AM

I think Justine added power to her game as she worked with Pat Etchenberry. Justine started to win Slams when her power was incorporated with her all court game while Serena has more variety than most people know her for. Good points in both posts on Serena today.

Posted by Matt Zemek 07/10/2009 at 11:01 AM

Pete, thanks for an illuminating piece.

I wonder how many prominent athletes or coaches in big-time professional sports have that "s/he is who s/he is" kind of quality, in which a performer's remarks and behaviors--while undeniably quirky and, in the eyes of some, off-putting--are ultimately sincere and authentic expressions of a competitive yet engaging self, and therefore to be respected if not admired.

It's good to get that level of beneath-the-surface insight from someone who has seen Serena up close and personal in the arena over an edtended period of time. I really appreciate that.

Posted by Pete 07/10/2009 at 11:10 AM

Thanks, Matt, et al. . . I'll be watching DC with y'all next few hours. Hope y'all have a good weekend although I may write a brief red-meat post before the day is done. My trigger finger is itchy.

Posted by Jalen 07/10/2009 at 12:15 PM

Just to comment on the Henin thing when Henin won the 2007 US Open, Venus struggled with anemia in their SF match. When Henin beat Serena at Wimbledon that year, Serena had a strained left calf and thumb injury; she hit more one-handed backhands in that match then she probably hit in the rest of 2007.

Posted by Babe 07/10/2009 at 12:53 PM

Ignore the--JUSTINE IS THE GREATEST THING SINCE SLICE TOAST--baloney. They know the truth. Serena has been the best female player in the past decade. All the pros know it & all the fans know it. Whether you like her or not, she is better than Venus, Justine, Kim, Jennifer, Hingis, Lindsay etc. Her problem has been injuries & some times, a lack of focus. All this blah blah blah nonsense about Justine is just that--BLAH BLAH BLAH!

Serena was dominating this tour--Justine included--until she left to have surgery in the summer of 03 & subsequently lost her sister. It is obvious that Justine stepped into the crack between those times.

It is no coincidence that Justine decided to run for the hills & quit at the top when Serena & Venus were regaining their form & returning to top flight tennis. She did the smart thing--she quit at the top; once could say, she saw the writing on the wall. She should have stuck around though--the 08 & onwards rivalry between her & Serena would have been something to see. I know who I'd put money on.

Hate Serena all you want, but those who know know where the truth lies & a few abstract repetitive & revisionist posts will not change anything.

Posted by Babe 07/10/2009 at 12:56 PM

Thanks, Master Ace--I read that when it first came out. I believe someone responded to him with another article yesterday.

I always love it when a 300 pounder finds little wrong with chastizing someone over perceived weight issues.

Posted by Babe 07/10/2009 at 01:02 PM

Matt--it isn't so out of range when you consider that most of the pundits & sports personalities & writers always seem to pick Serena as their favorite person & gamer. But, people around here will always see what they want to see--especially if the person they loath is chumping up their faves on the tennis court. That's gotta hurt.

Posted by Ruth 07/10/2009 at 01:03 PM

Come on, James. Break this guy...NOW!

Posted by Babe 07/10/2009 at 01:10 PM

Master ace: I do have to agree with Whitlock--Serena is an UNDERACHIEVER extraordinaire. I don't appreciate some of his statements or some of the reasons he blames for this. But there is no avoiding the fact that she is an underachiever. Serena should have many more slams than she does have. Though, she went through some very difficult times in her life but that does not excuse all the other times she just didn't seem interested.

She looks like she realizes how much time she's wasted & seems eager to make up for it. Bad bad luck for some people.

Posted by Ruth 07/10/2009 at 01:15 PM

BillyBob: The match up that I liked the most was the Serena-JCap matchup. Boy, those matches were fun. They really brought out the fiercest and the best in each other.

(Of course, I prefer not to think about their last match, that awful USO 2004 one which, many claim, hastened the arrival of the challenge system for players.)

MA: I read the Whitlock article on CNote's blog (cut and pasted), shook my head, had a good laugh at his stupidity, and followed her (CNote's) advice not to go to the source since the guy is obviously desperately seeking hits for his piece.

BTW Venus was asked about the article when she was in Philly on Wednesday. She asked who Whitlock was, if he was an athlete. When told he was a journamlist, she told the assembled journalists, "Oh, I don't read the press." Isn't that young woman something? :)

Posted by Babe 07/10/2009 at 01:17 PM

"There's no denying the vitriol and the hate displayed by that crowd toward two young women, trying to participate in the american dream. (not to mention how IW figures into the #1 ranking controversy today)"

Here here--Yello Fuzzy. Add all that to the fact that Serena had done nothing to invite such vitriol & it makes the whole incident that much more revolting. They came that day to ensure that she lost that match & they tried until the very end to make that happen--but justice prevailed.

Small wonder these girls feel the need to run from this tour so often.

As to your entire post, I couldn't have said it better.

Posted by Babe 07/10/2009 at 01:59 PM

Tigerlily you are so off course, it's not even funny. Serena, being treated with kid gloves? What a joke! She gets every bit more criticism for saying the same things others say.

And as for poor Safina, perhaps you should take a gander at some of her pressers & see what pleasant things she has to say. When she's not engaging in self-delusion, she is being downright nasty. But--what a minute--complete silence from everyone. I wonder why. Read her post-RG presser & see what lovely words she has for Sveta.

None of these players are perfect beings; but then neither are we. They go through their daily lives in the spotlight while we get to have our bad moments in private. Sure, there are rewards for them but the punishment--for some--many times outweighs the crime.

Serena has won 3 majors & was responding to questions as to why she is not #1. She, rightly, believes that she has earned that spot. Should the fact that Safina currently assumes that position change that fact? NO! The WTA's ranking system is a joke & is the culprit here; but let's not get carried away AGAIN with the poor Dinara crap because the truth is that she gives as good as she gets. She is not the victim here & just because you like one & not the other does not alter that fact.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 07/10/2009 at 02:15 PM

Ruth and Tina - Thank you so much for your comments about the wrong assumption that the press lets Serena gets away with a lot of things. If anything, the press has on many occasions been the one vilifying her. Like I mentioned in my first post on this thread, a number of her comments and RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS FROM journalists have been spliced, diced, amalgamated to create the image of Serena the villain. Personally I would prefer if she took the Vee route when asked some of these types of stupid questions. For instance you would think she was the one that coined that phrase "real no. 1" based on the way the articles were written. When I went back to the presser the question from the reporter was this:

"Q. Who do you think is the real No. 1 today? Is Safina or it's Serena, it's..."

Similarly like I mentioned the gazillion articles that came out after the *lucky gate* USO 2007 was that Serena never gave Justine any credit which was not the case. The articles conveniently left out the she played better part etc. The reporter went out of his or her way to ensure that Serena said her level dipped. Again from the presser:

Q. You fought pretty hard to get back into the first set. She played a good tiebreak. Second set, your level seemed to drop.
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I just think she played better. I just think she made a lot of lucky shots, and I made a lot of errors. I don't think my level dropped.

Q. Isn't it making errors when your level drops?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I guess it is in a way, maybe my level did drop. I definitely made a lot of errors. I think she just played a little bit more aggressive and started hitting really, really hard balls.

So even when Serena says things, gives credit, is gracious parts of her pressers are published in articles without questions or context to make it look like she never gave credit etc

Am I saying that there are times when she is not ungracious? No. But the media that some seem to perceive as giving Serena a *free pass* is the media that crucifies Serena.

Posted by Babe 07/10/2009 at 02:56 PM

Well done, avid sports fan...not that it will make much difference. I remember them showing that press conference during the next match (I believe Nadal v. Ferrer--not too sure); it was incredible because the only part they played was the lucky shots part--& JMac & Ted Robinson harped on it. It wasn't till I went back & read the whole thing did I see that she was in fact very gracious to Justine. But, that does not make for good press, does it...&, more importantly, it doesn't give some folks something to say they hate her for.

And even if she did say "lucky shots" what; don't players hit shots that are lucky more often than not.

Yea, that Serena--she gets a free pass all the time. That's right.

Posted by Babe 07/10/2009 at 02:58 PM

And avid, I really do think that that is why Venus has decided not to give them anything any more. She used to be a lot more free--giving indepth analysis & opinions about her matches--but she has learned the hard way. And now, they want desperately to pry her mouth open; but--smart girl--she ain't talking.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 07/10/2009 at 03:03 PM

Babe - you are right it probably won't make any difference. the myth must live on that she is NEVER gracious in defeat ;-) And I do not blame Vee for not giving them anything anymore.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 07/10/2009 at 03:15 PM

Meanwhile I also love watching doubles and I enjoy watching Vee and ReRe play doubles too. I definitely will like to see them play doubles even when they call it quits in singles. While the ultra-competitiveness and focus and intensity they show in their singles matches are there, I like that you can see the fun and camaraderie come alive when they play doubles.

Posted by jan in Pdx 07/10/2009 at 03:44 PM

I see Serena differently. Doesn't care what others think? why do her stats say she weights 135? She has fake hair and a an often less than real presentation of self. So in '03 was she running and training more or not? "come to think of it" she said and changed her mind.

What she has is an acute sense of entitlement. She's lucky - that comes with alot of confidence, deserved or not. Her mother and her sister, Venus, have both made statements such as "she's the baby, and always thinks she should get her way." But the reality is if you think you can, you're probably alot closes to be able to do the task than otherwise.

Posted by Samantha Elin(supporter of all things Scandinavian.) 07/11/2009 at 06:31 AM

Wow, I bet Jan is a huge Serena fan. LOL!

Posted by djerkovic 07/13/2009 at 03:15 AM


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