Serena Williams Gets Back in the Game
Tennis ace Serena Williams returns to the winner's circle after battling injuries, grief, and a dramatic slip in her pro ranking.
Finding Balance continued...
"I wish I could be like Martina Navratilova," says Williams, referring to
her 50-year-old colleague as someone whose passion for the sport never wanes,
despite a nearly nonstop playing schedule. "But I'm not like that. I need other
things in my life. I need balance."
When asked if these other "things" -- from business meetings with apparel
executives to red-carpet movie premieres -- help prevent feelings of burnout,
she replies, "Yes. For me, they do. Absolutely."
For naysayers who questioned her commitment to tennis before her spectacular
return in Australia a few months ago, for those who wrote that she wasn't
training enough, wasn't conditioned enough, and had lost her desire to win,
Williams offers this: "I never stopped training. I trained all year - you have
to. It was never an option to settle [for a lower ranking]."
Back on Top
So, WebMD asks, which is more difficult emotionally: maintaining a No. 1
position with your competitors gunning to take you down, or climbing back as
the underdog? "I don't know which one is harder," Williams says. "There are ups
and downs. When you're down -- feeling truly low -- fighting your way back can
be fun. But when you're No. 1, it's the best. Nothing's better. ...
"But I never feel pressure," she continues, challenging Macci's earlier
assessment. "I just stay focused on my own game. That's what works for me."
Does she believe her presence -- all 5 feet, 10 inches of cut biceps,
iron-strong legs, fierce gaze, and determined focus -- intimidates her
adversaries? "I really don't know," she says. "I try not to think about anyone
else out there. I think about me."
When Williams took on Sharapova in Melbourne, she was thinking about someone
else -- but it wasn't her opponent on the other side of the net. After winning
the match with a forceful backhand -- and securing her eighth Grand Slam title
-- Williams told the crowd in an emotional voice, "Most of all, I would like to
dedicate this win to my sister, who's not here. Her name is Yetunde. I just
love her so much. I'll try not to get teary-eyed, but I said a couple of days
ago, if I win this, it's going to be for her. So thanks, Tunde."
Sharapova later remarked: "You can never underestimate [Williams] as a
performer. ... I know what she's capable of, and she showed that today. She has
shown it many, many times."
Built to Win
Compared with some of her will-o'-the-wisp rivals, including her 125-pound
archnemesis, Belgian player Justine Henin, Williams is physically, well,
impressive. But does she get tired of having her fitness level questioned
simply because she has curves, strength, and mass? Does she suffer from weight
issues and insecurities like so many other American women? Or does Williams
view her body as a machine, something to be nourished and trained for maximum