Thursday, August 19, 2010 0:45 am
NOT YOUR AVERAGE NO. 1
She shocks. She offends. She pushes the limit. And her honesty is so brutal it makes you uncomfortable. Serena Williams knows how to get in your head—on and off the court.
By Sebastian del Marmol; Photography by Dania Graibe
“When I’m on the court, (sometimes) I find myself thinking about what I’m going to wear later on. What I’m going to do after the match. Where I’m going to dinner.” Obviously the yammering of some amateur tennista, right? Somebody whose mind is likely to wander while waiting to return serve. But Serena Williams—the best female tennis player, possibly ever? She isn’t talking about a practice session either, but of matches she’s played against the best in the world, in front of packed stadiums. If she’s losing, she admits her mind’s likely to take off even further. “I’ll think what a loser I am; how I’m going to fly home in coach because I don’t deserve to fly in (first) class.”
In case you missed it, Serena is not your typical Women’s Tennis Association professional, and not only because she is so much better than everybody else or because she practically bit the head off a tiny lineswoman at last year’s U.S. Open (for which she received the largest tennis fine ever—$82,500). Like many athletes who teeter on iconic status, Serena’s comments don’t always fit into our ideal of how the best athletes in the world should behave. When she speaks, she’s going to be direct, like her powerful backhand up the line.
That often comes with a price. Early in her career, her candor was misconstrued as gracelessness and she took heat for being honest. But she feels the public has come to terms with the person she is and has actually taken to her. “I used to get criticism for being the way I am, but then people realized that it’s just me. I think they feel it’s refreshing. Who wants to hear the same old thing about how we work so hard? I’m not any more special than anyone else.”
In our full interview with Serena, she talks more about hating to lose and how her lack of focus sometimes works in her favor. Check it out in the September/October SPORTS issue of SOBeFiT Magazine.