Pro tennis returns to the U.S. on Monday for the start of the WTA Lexington tour event. The headliner is non other than 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams who spoke via zoom today in promotion of the event.
In her first public presser since the pandemic began, Serena, who suffered a life-threatening pulmonary embolism in 2011, spoke about dealing with the virus.
“I don’t have full lung capacity so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Serena said. “I’m sure I would be OK but I don’t want to find out
“I have like 50 masks that I travel with,” she added. “I’m super, super careful with what I’ve been doing, and everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.
“Because at the end of the day it’s cool to play tennis, but this is my life and this is my health, so I’ve been a little neurotic to an extent but that’s just what I have to be right now.
Turning 39 next month, Serena hasn’t played since the February Fed Cup. She lost in the third round at the Australian Open to Wang Qiang.
“Everyone has the opportunity to be more fit now, because we spent so much time at home… to just work on yourself, your life and your game. Match fitness is always different than ‘fit’ fitness.
“My physios are in Europe, so I had to figure out a way for someone to work with me in my bubble, in Florida, that I could trust. That was a new curve that I had to deal with. Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court.”
Serena lives in Florida which has been hit hard by the virus in recent months. A court at her house, though, came in quite handy.
“Tennis is naturally a social distanced sport,” said Serena. “It was easy for me to walk on my side of the court and my hitter to walk on the other side of the court.
“Florida was a really bad place to be so we were extreme with our social distancing. It was a completely different experience, but that is the only real learning curve.
“I had to make a gym and my husband made a court for me. I guess that is different. We built a tennis court and gym, it is super cool.”
Serena will playing Lexington, where she will meet Bernarda Pera in the first round, then travel to New York to play Cincinnati and the US Open where she will bid again for a 24th Slam. If all goes well, then it’s off to Europe for the French.
“I see myself doing it all if it happens,” Serena said.
“But I am not planning for the future, as tournaments got cancelled I was just like, ‘Let me just work on today and see what happens’.”
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