Thursday 28 March 2013
All eyes will be on defending champion Serena Williams when she travels to Wimbledon this summer. But what's her mood like at the moment? Wimbledon.com explores...
Any time Serena Williams asks the hotel valet to bring the white Rolls-Royce around to the front is a reminder of her mid-life crisis. In a state of panic at the thought of turning 30 - "It was really hard for me, I really struggled" - she bought herself a vintage car. With all the spring-breakers roller-blading up and down Miami's South Beach at this time of year, 30 can feel like the new 50.
But Williams, now 31, has demonstrated over the past few days in Florida that a sense of crisis has passed, that she is taking joy from her tennis, from being world No.1 again, from her life. Take, for example, the adventure the other night when she had to step out of the Rolls and pedal on a bicycle to her match. Who could have imagined that the traffic on Key Biscayne could have indirectly brought so much pleasure to the Wimbledon champion? But it was an indication of Serena's state of mind. So slowly was Williams moving in her Rolls-Royce on the way from her hotel to Crandon Park, she became concerned that she would be late for her match at the Sony Open, so she called the concierge for assistance. She would end up having one of the more memorable experiences of her life.
"The traffic was crazy and everyone was saying, 'I've been here for an hour, and I'm staying just eight minutes away'. I'm like, 'OK, I'm not going to make my match. So I asked for a golf cart, and the hotel didn't have a golf cart. Then they were like, 'we have a motor bike'. I'm like, 'I don't do motor bikes'. They said, 'we have a bicycle'. I said, 'I really don't do bicycles, but I will today'. So I left the Rolls behind. I went from a Rolls to the bike. Riding a bike to a match was probably one of my best memories ever. That was pretty cool."
Since Williams hasn't played at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for a decade, she made her springtime reappearance in Miami. So, in that sense, this year isn't much different. But the fact that she has returned to competition as the No.1 has made this tournament all the more significant for the Californian. For all the time that Williams has spent at the top of the rankings, she still gets a thrill when the stadium announcer introduces her to the crowd as the world No.1, as the best at what she does. Rolls-Royces won't keep you feeling young. For the illusion of eternal youth, you need to win Wimbledon titles, to regain the No.1 ranking and to go on impromptu bike rides. "My attitude is always, it feels better when you're No.1. There's nothing like when they announce you and they say, 'The No.1 player in the world'. That definitely gives me a little bit more confidence, I think a little more pep in your step. It's just a great feeling," Williams has said. "Being number one keeps me going. I'm pretty good at it still. So I feel like if I'm doing something well I don't want to stop and I shoudn't stop."
If Williams can keep that feeling going in Paris and London this summer, she will be difficult to beat on either side of the English Channel.
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