Serena Shows Fitness is Mental
by Richard Vach | January 31st, 2007, 11:36 pm

Serena Williams is fat. Serena is out of shape. Serena cares more about fashion than tennis.

Those were the accusations.

But Serena had the last word at the 2007 Australian Open. The younger Williams sister did show up at the event on Day 1 a bit doughy, but by Day 14 she looked in absolute fighting form, like she should be on TV pitching the “Serena Slam Weightloss Plan.”

Makes you shudder to think how she’ll show up at the French, knowing she can play her way into shape.

But Serena flipped the scenario during the Aussie fortnight. At the beginning it was criticism of her physical condition. By the end it was criticism of her opponents’ mental condition.

In the third round Nadia Petrova did what she does best, choking a 6-1 and a break lead in the second, folding 6-3 in the third. Then came the choking brigade of teens and near-teens. No. 1 seed Jelena Jankovic, who had beaten Serena in their previous two meetings, got tight on the big stage in Melbourne. Against Shahar Peer, the inexperienced Israeli teen got tight after jumping out to a set and a break lead. Same with Vaidisova, who still can’t control her emotions, and couldn’t close out a set point.

Worse yet, there matches were basically battering ram vs. battering ram, with few slices, drop shots or clever off-pace angles.

As Steve Bierly of The Guardian put it, “The Williams, when they put their minds to it, still play power tennis better than anybody else, and Serena, for whom this was her eighth slam title, the best of all. But the chronic lack of variety in the women’s game makes for tedious watching. One longs for somebody with the brain, variety of shots and anticipation of Martina Hingis who is also physically strong enough to withstand and counter the huge hitters. But to walk around the outside courts during the final week and watch the junior girls did nothing for the spirit of optimism. Here were youngsters welting the ball at one another with no thought of guile or subtlety. It was depressing.”

Depressing as the one-dimensional play was, it fell right into Serena’s court, where she could out-muscle her opponents and chase down balls and play defense better than her gawky six foot runway-model opponents.

“The worst criticism is that I was not fit — I know I am larger in some areas than some women players,” Serena said. “I don’t have a flat chest or a flat ass. I was looking in the mirror and I was asking myself, ‘Am I fit, or what?’ My waist is, like, 28 inches. I couldn’t figure this one out. Yet I am the same size and same weight as five years ago. I played three sets with [Shahar] Peer and [Nadia] Petrova, I practised at 7 in the morning after Petrova and was not tired at all.”

Her angry state in the final was due to a fierce resolve to see her murdered sister, Yetunde, see her raise the trophy from on high.

“Every day I write notes for my matches, but today my note was just ‘Yetunde.’ That’s it,” Williams told the press afterwards, looking at her notes during changeovers. “Usually I write ‘Look at the ball, move forward, do this, do that.’ Today I just had one word. Every changeover I looked at it and I just thought about how happy she would have been, how much she always supported me. I just thought about what an amazing sister she was to me. I just said ‘Serena, this has to be motivating. This has to be more than enough to motivate me.'”

“I think it was.”

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19 Comments for Serena Shows Fitness is Mental

veena Says:

amazing star ever in the game of tennis
Well done Serena.We highly appreciate your love and committment towards the game

June De Leon Says:

Serena I’m so glad you shut up all those wagging tongues. Thank you for also putting them in their place about your body. Hopefully now they will judge u on your playing abilities which is quite awesome.

Aaron Randle Says:

Richard Vach,

Just congratulate Serena, you seem to be faulting everyone ELSE for her winning…maybe it was the fact that shes the biggest fighter. Jankovic didnt choke…Serena never let her in the game. And Serena simply outplayed Vaidisova. Quit trying to find faults in her opponents and give Serena the recognition and props she deserves.

Zola Says:

I think it just shows how talented and determined Serena is. I am not a huge Serena fan, but she is the better player when she is motivated. Her body is awkward. Really large in some areas. but it just showed that tennis is about techniques and about fitness. Besides someone had to put Sharapova in her place. I think the moment they ban shrieking over 100 decibel on court, Sharapova will not win another match. Great job Serena.

Tyron Harris Says:

I would hope that after this tournament Serena Williams has reestablished what she already established herself as, which is the most dominant female tennis player in the world. At her best, she is federer-like in terms of invincibility and even at her almost best, she possesses a die-hard tenacity that almost no one can defeat. She has endured much criticism from people who feel that she is somehow “betraying her gift”, but Serena is free to do as she pleases and should not have to constantly defend her already incredible legacy.

JohnHecter Says:

“Serena Shows Fitness is Mental”

actually she is just showing how much the WTA sucks… if a non-seeded hippo wins a GS defeating the highest seed , that tells you something about the quality of the WTA tour… women tennis is a joke…

aaa Says:

JohnHecter, you’ve said it! The only correct and wise statement on this page!

ObaMasi Says:

JohnHecter and aaa are just a couple of “haters” that cannot stand the fact that Serena is simply superior to the competition! No, she does not require 30 matches a month just to be competitive like most girls on the WTA, and sure she has ample breast and butt, but what woman of African heritage doesn’t??? That hardly makes her a “hippo” just what we African people call “fine”, as Serena said “I don’t have a flat chest or flat a**”. Funny how when Sharapova beat down these same opponents she is seen as “great” and “better than the Williams” but whe a Williams beat these girls then there is something wrong with the WTA. African-American understand this kind of thinking since we have seen it for over 4 centuries (white most always be right where white and black is concerned).

karthik Says:

the comments made by aaa and john hecter are funny
when sharapova won us open isnt it that wta is worst
but when serena defeats sharapova its that the wta is not gr8
quit those comments on serena and try to understand that serena is the greatest player in her generation and it takes lot 4 any player to get to her strength

ObaMasi Says:

Peter Bondo of says this about Serena and the WTA:
“Early in the tournament, her success seemed a sad comment on the competitive drive of the opponents she demolished; by the time she crushed a gritty, fit Maria Sharapova in the final, only a fool clung to that trope. This was not about how flawed her rivals are, or about Serena’s fitness; this was about Serena being less a tennis player than a force of nature. A hurricane doesn’t need to spend time in the gym or on the practice field to prepare for wreaking havoc.”

Riff Says:

I agree with ObaMasi. I am *Not* a big Williams fan. A lot of that ranges from the ‘beginnings’ when V&S were too cocky in interviews. (due probably to good ole dad)

But .. Serena has a tiger heart and played extrememly well..dug deep..and found victory. Plain and simple. I actually ENJOYED her grace in the post-match interviews. ( I can STILL do WITHOUT the grunting competition!!!)

She’s big, yes, at least by 10-20 pounds … but her HEART and DRIVE won her matches. Maybe a lesson can be learned by other WTA pros. (to have heart and drive — NOT carry around extra weight)

bogledance Says:

If it were Roger Federer coming back to win a grand slam after hardly playing for a year people would bristle at the suggestion of a weak men’s field and would insist it was further proof of his tennis god status.

Interesting that it’s not the same for Serena.

joe mo Says:

thats the point dude. if roger federer showed up fat after an injury layoff he wouldnt get out of the 2nd round on the mens tour.

JCF Says:

There’s enough players out there that give Roger problems when he’s fit (not beat him, but definately give him a scare). If he wasn’t fit, that would be enough to lose to them.

Players like Gonzo, Haas, Roddick, Nalbandian, Hewitt maybe, maybe even Davydenko, Berdych and other youngsters. These guys would all beat Federer if he was off.

Andrew Miller Says:

Mr. Vach-thought you would get a kick out of this before/after turnaround.

Xavier Malisse changing his tune about round robins. First quote is about losing a match (even tanking a set) yet advancing. Second quote is about losing a match yet winning the tournament.

Thursday, 2-1-07:
Malisse’s group consisted of three players that each finished 1-1. But the first tiebreaker is based on percentage of sets won. Malisse won a group-best three of five sets, while Schuettler won two of five and Alejandro Falla earned two of four. Malisse knew before the match that he had to win just one set to claim a spot in the quarterfinals, which plagued his on-court concentration.

“I just don’t like the approach,” said Malisse, the 2005 Delray champion. “You win a set, then what are you playing for?”

Monday, 2-5-07:
“At this event, Malisse lost one of his round-robin matches against Rainer Schuettler of Germany but still took the title. “It does feel weird winning a tournament having lost a match,” Malisse said. “That’s just the way it is. But I don’t feel any different. I won the matches I had to win.”

Hmmm. Guess ATP Round Robin inventors are wondering how it is they created a new way of playing tennis that lets top players tank yet win tournaments.

Antibush Says:

Bush goes ballistic about other countries being evil and dangerous, because they have weapons of mass destruction. But, he insists on building up even a more deadly supply of nuclear arms right here in the US. What do you think? Is killing thousands of innocent civilians okay when you are doing a little government makeover?
If ever there was ever a time in our nation’s history that called for a change, this is it!
The more people that the government puts in jails, the safer we are told to think we are. The real terrorists are wherever they are, but they aren’t living in a country with bars on the windows. We are.

azlovebug Says:

It was a shame for all of Womens Tennis to watch the Open and know that Serena could be that out of shape and win. What does that say for Womans Tennis Not Much

mamalucy Says:


Serena is my tennis idol!! I am an African American woman with a nice rack and ass like Serena. I have played local league tournaments and have meet some tall, & so called fit women, that look at me with pity; & I see them thinking, “I’m going to beat her fat ass.” Well, after KICKING THEIR FLAT ASSES, I hear, “you hit with such power and you are so quick on your feet.” WOW!! WHAT A FEELING!!
NOTE TO THE HATERS: Serena kicked Sharapova’s FLAT ASS AGAIN AT THE ERICSSON OPEN TODAY, 03/27/07- (6-1,6-1)

mamalucy Says:


My tennis idol has done it again!!! She made it to the finals in Miami. SHE’S BACK!!



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