Serena Williams: “I wasn't even sure if I was going to play Rome. Then to come out the win gave me a lot of confidence.” - UBITENNIS
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Serena Williams: “I wasn't even sure if I was going to play Rome. Then to come out the win gave me a lot of confidence.”




TENNIS ROLAND GARROS 2014 – Serena Williams pre-tournament interview.


Q. So just kind of curious as to what your reaction was when you saw you drew Alizé in the first round.

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I didn’t know, so we’ll see.


Q. You didn’t know at all?



Q. Did she ask you about it?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No. We were talking about it before the draw was made. It’s ironic, I guess. It is what it is. I guess it goes with that song, Isn’t it ironic.

She’s a great player. She’s been doing really well. So we’ll see.


Q. You obviously have done a lot of draw ceremonies in your life. You weren’t there for the women’s part, but are you trying to block out all that you can, or are you still somebody who doesn’t want to look at the draw?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I actually never, never, never look at it. I just either wait for you to tell me or someone, and then I go from there. I just take it one day at a time.


Q. Coming back here as the champion, is it making it special? Is it still an extra pleasure or pressure?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It’s always good. It feels good for me. I don’t remember the last time I was defending champ, so it feels really good that I’m here as defending champion.

I’m really excited. Like I said, it’s been a while, but I think I have had a really long, great career, hopefully. It just feels really good to be at this point in my career and playing as defending champion.


Q. You have had another strong run on clay last the three years. Your record is pretty impressive on that surface. What went into how much success you have had recently as compared to the stretch of, let’s say five, seven years before that on this surface?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Ten years. Ten years. (Smiling.)

I don’t know what clicked or didn’t click. I grew up on hard courts, and then when I turned ten I played only clay until I turned pro.

I have the capability of playing on clay, so I don’t know why I wasn’t more consistent on clay before.

But, hey, I guess better late than never, right?


Q. Was it just a mental thing, a click, that kind of turned it on clay?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it was more I don’t want to lose. I want to be in the tournament. I want to not that I didn’t have that feeling before, but it was even deeper to a point of I don’t I just want to be here. I want to play more. I want to do better. You know, just focusing on everything and all tennis and just trying to get, you know, to that point.

That’s the only thing I can say. I didn’t really change my game. I’m not trying to be hit less winners on clay, because, you know, I just pretty much do the same thing.


Q. How important was it to come into Roland Garros after winning in Rome, and what did that victory mean for you, as well?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It was important for me, because I didn’t get to play as much clay as I did last year. I had to stop in Madrid early, so I wasn’t even sure if I was going to play Rome.

Then to come out the win gave me a lot of confidence. I got a lot of matches in there and I needed those matches. I felt good after them.

So, you know, ultimately I felt really well.


Q. Did you used to come into the French Open with a different mindset than you would the other Grand Slams where you had more success?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Maybe a year or two, but in general I don’t play a tournament unless I don’t feel I can win.

That doesn’t mean I win everything. It just means that I’m going in there with the intention of doing the best that I can, and I’m not going to think, Oh, I’m going to lose in this round or this round. I just do the best that I can in every round.


Q. Do you like being seeded No. 1, being looked at as a favorite here?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I like being seeded No. 1. The favorite part is definitely more pressure. But as Billie Jean King tells me, pressure is a privilege.


Q. What do you remember about the first match you played against Venus at the Australian Open in ’98, I think it was?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was I remember I was excited. I think I beat Spirlea in the round before round. How I remember that and I don’t remember other things, I don’t know, that just happened last week.

So I was excited to get that win. And then, you know, I obviously would have preferred not to play Venus, but that’s just how it worked out. I was just happy to kind of, you know, be there. I was so young at the time.


Q. You played her over a dozen times since in late rounds some early rounds, too. Does it get any easier playing your sister at all?

SERENA WILLIAMS: No, it never gets easier. She’s essentially the love of my life, so it’s definitely difficult.


Q. You did the after match interview in French last year. So do you plan to do that this year? Any improvement in your French?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I hope it’s improved. I really do. We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I’ll get to do an after match interview.


Q. I’m curious, were you able to kind of reset after you took that break after Charleston and had that break between then and Madrid? Were you able to rest and relax? We spoke to you in Charleston and you were saying you were wiped and exhausted. So kind of where are you at with all that now?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I’m really good now. I’m great. I feel like this is the only place I want to be. The next tournament is the only place I want to be and the tennis court is where I need to be.

So I feel really that break, I really needed it. I tried as hard as I could in Charleston, and it just    I just couldn’t pull it    I couldn’t do it. That’s when I knew that I needed to take some time and just refocus and regroup and then see what happens.


Q. Just coming back to what you were saying about Billie Jean and how it’s good to have pressure on you, has your conversations with the likes of Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova changed over the course of the year? You have been winning Grand Slams since 1999? Do they say, Well, when we first started talking to you you had the potential; now you are among us. So do they talk to you in a different way or are they still Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova?

SERENA WILLIAMS: I definitely think there is a little bit of a change. I think there’s a lot of respect mutually between all of us. For me, they are still on a pedestal. They are still like, you know, some of the greatest players that’s ever played our sport and that’s made our sport what it is today.

It’s given me this opportunity for me to be here today and to travel and to have this life. For me, I have definitely a tremendous amount of respect. To even be mentioned in the same sentence as those greats for me is still, and I think will always, be an honor.


Q. Seems already like you have more of a game face on here than in Rome. When did you click into that sort of Grand Slam intensity?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, gotta happen soon, you know, because you can’t necessarily go around eating caccia en pepe pasta every night. I’m not doing that here, although it sounds good (smiling).


Travelling across tennis, relationships and life with John Lloyd

Ubaldo Scanagatta spoke to John Lloyd about a series of topics on his professional and personal life.





In an exclusive talk with Ubitennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta, John Lloyd, former British No.1 and Davis Cup Captain provides insights on tennis, a changing world and his personal history


Edited by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

Wimbledon and the recent publication of “Dear John”, John Lloyd’s autobiography, set up the occasion for Ubitennis to meet up with John Lloyd and have a long talk which embraced four decades of tennis and personal anecdotes.

“Friend” is the word which most often recurs in John’s tales and unveils his unique empathy in his relating to people, to life. Always eager to embrace new experiences, yet loyal to his past.

Indeed, John Lloyds’ best run in a major was halted by a friend. In 1977, in fact, he reached the final at the Australian Open, which he lost in five sets to Vitas Gerulatis:

The Slam in Australia wasn’t like it is now. It was still a big tournament, but some of the big players didn’t come over because it was over Christmas. I got to the final. I should have won that match. I lost in five sets to my friend Vitas, which was a big disappointment although if I was going to lose with someone, he’s the guy because, you know, he was a great guy. It was one of the saddest days when he passed away at 40 years old with that tragedy with the carbon dioxide poisoning.

John is not a person who allows rear-view perspective to indulge in regrets, yet in terms of tennis he admits he regrets never managing to make a breakthrough at Wimbledon, where he says he always suffered from a self-inflicted pressure:

For some reason at Wimbledon I never played my best tennis. I won two mixed doubles, which was great [in 1983 and in 1984 with Wendy Turnbull] but in singles I was always very disappointed with my performances. I had a couple of big wins.  I beat my friend Roscoe Tanner when he was seeded number 3 and a lot of people thought he was going to win the title that year. I beat him on court number 1 but it was typical of my Wimbledon performances that I lost the next day to a German player called Karl Meiler who I should have beaten [after comfortably winning the first two sets he ended up losing in 9 7 in the fifth]. I let myself down after having one of the best wins of my career. And that was my Wimbledon story.

“Dear John” was written with Phil Jones, BBC journalist, while the foreword is by a tennis great, and friend, Bjorn Borg:

Bjorn is a good friend of mine. We’ve had many good times together when we played and also when we played on the senior tour. Bjorn is a lovely man and I called him up and asked him and he said no problem, I’d love to do it.  We’ve had so many good stories. I’ve always thought he is one of the greatest champions of all time. I beat him once in Monte Carlo on clay [1975, 60 57 64, in the quarterfinals]. It was probably my best ever win although there are rumours he was out until four in the morning with some ladies…but that’s not my fault!

When we mention how there was a moment when he became very popular also outside the world of tennis, owing to his romance with Chris Evert, John opens up about the difficulties in getting married so young and to a worldwide tennis star:

We had some good times. We were married for 8 years but we were too young, both 24, on the tennis circuit, going to different places.  If we had been married 10 years later we could have had a chance. We had some good times and some bad times, but we are still friends. I married into someone who was a huge legend. It was fortunate I was well known in Britain so I was used to having press around and that kind of stuff, but it was nothing like until I got married with Chris. It opened a lot of doors to me, to be honest. I met people I wouldn’t have met before. We went to wonderful places, met amazing people.

As well as broadcasting for BBC, John Lloyd’s working life spans from selling real estate for Sotheby’s in Western Palm Beach, where he is currently living, to some coaching, and some tennis lessons in Mar-a-Lago club run by Donald Trump, former US president and a man who built a financial empire with real estate. Mr Trump’s knack for business is well proved by a story John recalls:

I’ve known Mr Trump for 40 years. I saw him about three months ago at the golf club and had a chat with him. He said “John, how about you doing some celebrity lessons at Mar-a-Lago?” I said “Mr President, that could be good”. He said “This is what we will do: I’ll tell the director of the club and you’ll charge 500 $ an hour. So that’s good and I’ll take half.” “That’s a good deal” I said. So that was the president. He knows how to do business. There was no negotiation. It was like I’ll take 250, but 250 is not bad so I’ll do that.

Donald Trump is only one of the celebrities John Lloyd met in his journeying around the world and that he writes about:

I do a lot of name dropping. I’m very good at that. I’ve been around with a lot of celebrities. I’ve had some funny stories about celebrities that people would like to hear, I hope. I’ve been fortunate. I’ve met presidents, the queen, the royal family, I’ve met billionaires, amazing businessmen.

I’m a boy from a place called Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, a small town. From a family below middle class. And I’ve seen every country in the world I’ve wanted to be. I’ve been very very fortunate.

We can infer that John Lloyd’s autobiography is not just an album of tennis memories:

I think that the word “great” in tennis is a very overused word. I think great players are players that have won slams in singles. I was a good player and a good player cannot write a book on just what he did on the court. But I’ve been very fortunate in my life. I’ve lived in four decades of professional tennis. I came in at the end of the Rod Laver era, and then came in with my era which was Borg, Connors and McEnroe. Then I went into the next era where I was Davis Cup captain with Henman, Rusedski, and Agassi, Sampras. Then the TV puts me into another one. So this book is really stories more than anything and I’m proud of it. But there’s also some serious stuff. I do a chapter about when six years ago I had prostate cancer and I’m very honest about that.

I also talk about my family and my son, who I’m very proud of. He had an addictive problem and he’s been clean now for thirteen years. When I wrote the book he asked me if I was going to mention it and I said no. And he said I want you to, because maybe it will help someone. So that was a very emotional and difficult chapter to write, about that period in my life which was without doubt the worst period, but then it became the most wonderful period to see my son turn out to be this amazing person.

Venturing back to tennis, since John has just spoken about players who were and still are good friends of his, we ask him if there were players he actually didn’t get along with. We learn that the toughest times came as a Davis Cup Captain:

I struggled a little bit with Andy Murray at times. I put in the book how much I admire him as a player, but I struggled a bit with his behaviour with coaches, the way he would say things to them. To be honest, it was one of my fears when I took the Davis Cup job that he was going to be on the court with me. I always thought to myself that if someone behaved like that and I was coaching them, I would just walk out, no matter how much they paid me. But as a Davis Cup captain, you can’t do that. I got really nervous about it. Then I came up with a good idea. At the time when I was captain he was being coached by Brad Gilbert. So I asked Brad to give me some instructions when Andy was playing, and he agreed to. And when Andy was coming up to me  and I could see he was mad, I told Andy, for instance, “Andy you need to come in to the net on the forehand more.” And he was about to say something, and I said, pointing at Brad, “He told me to tell you! It was him!” So Brad got all the shouting and I just gave him [Andy] the towel.

I struggled with Greg Rusedski a little bit too. He was fine on my team but, after he left, he was then trying to get my job and made a few remarks about me on TV, that I was picking the wrong players, the wrong chords, that kind of stuff that I wouldn’t do, sure.

This is the prompt that leads up to a comparison between tennis of different eras and John has a few prickly ideas.

Most players were good in my era. There were some guys that I struggled with a little bit, but, you know, we didn’t have entourages around us the way they do now. We had a group and we’d play matches, we’d be in the locker room and the guy who lost, it was like “Let’s go out tonight.” Now they’ve got managers and physiotherapists and parents, they are in all these groups… I always say to people I’m envious of how much money the players of today make, of course I would love that, but they don’t have as good a time as we had. I have friends that I still see. And I’m lucky I wasn’t in the era with cell phones and Ipads. I would probably have got locked up about twenty times for the things I did, but nobody could catch me.

As John has sailed through so many tennis eras and is well docked in the current harbours, we ask him if he expected players to be able to win twenty and more slams, and three players to win 62 [63, after Wimbledon 2022]. We also cannot but be curious to hear his say on the GOAT debate:

It’s a remarkable feat that these three players have done. I also wrote a chapter on this, called records. I like all those players but one of the things I like about Djokovic is that he is not scared to tell you that he wants to win the most titles, that’s his goal. Rafa and Roger come up with all this rubbish where they say “Oh no, that’s not my concern.” That’s just lies, of course it is. It’s in your DNA. Records are records, that’s what you live for if you are a player. And for them to say that is nonsense.

Who is the greatest of all time? It’s a fun conversation. I thought for sure that Novak was going to win more and then Nadal does what he does. I still think Novak is going to win more in the end, but for me when I talk about the greatest and all this, I switch it a little bit to say that what Rafa has done at the French Open, the 14 there, is the greatest sports achievement in any sport in history. So for me, whether he finishes second or third in terms of slams is not important. It’s a miracle he played 16 French Opens and won 14. It’s impossible what he did. That to me is the greatest achievement anyone has ever done.

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(EXCLUSIVE) Anne Keothavong Reacts To British Success At Wimbledon

The captain of the British Billie Jean king Cup team tells Ubitennis she believes her players can keep the momentum going beyond the grass swing.




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This year’s Wimbledon Championships have without a doubt been a success for British tennis.


It all began during the first week when 10 Brits secured a place in the second round of the tournament – six in the men’s draw and four in the women’s. Making it the most successful start to the Grand Slam by British players since 1984. Continuing the momentum Liam Broady and Katie Boulter secured a place in the third round. Meanwhile, Heather Watson made it to the last 16 for the first time on her 12th attempt.

The stand-out Brit this year though has been Cameron Norrie who is only the fourth man from his country to reach the last four of Wimbledon in the Open Era. The breakthrough by the 26-year-old has been one in the making following a series of successes he has achieved on the ATP Tour. Norrie, who has featured in nine ATP finals since May 2021, will take on top seed Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals on Friday.

Watching the success from the sidelines is Anne Keothavong who is the current captain of the British Billie Jean King Cup team. As a player, she cracked the world’s top 50 in 2009 and was the first female player from her country to do so for 16 years. She played in 24 Grand Slam main draws during a 13-year period.

As it is with every Wimbledon, the task for the LTA is to continue the momentum generated by their players beyond the grass season. Something Keothavong thinks will be certainly possible.

“That’s the challenge. All the British players – men and women – have had an unbelievable grass-court season, not just Wimbledon,” she tells Ubitennis.
“Naturally there is a kind of a break to regroup after everything that has gone on but they will be back in training in no time and getting ready for the hardcourt season.”

Due to the ban on Russian and Belarussian players playing at British events this year, no ranking points have been issued. Undoubtedly an annoyance for the likes of Watson and Norrie but they have made peace with the situation already.

Keothavong is one of those nurturing the best female players in her country and providing any possible help if asked to. The British women have been thriving in recent months, especially Emma Raduanu who became the first qualifier in history to win a major title at the US Open. In total there are six Brits in the WTA top 200 and a further two younger players just outside. 21-year-old Francesca Jones is 219th and 20-year-old Sonay Kartal is 226th.

“On the women’s side, all of those players have so much confidence,” said Keothavong. “Their ranking is going in the right direction, they are able to enter tournaments which they might not have been able to do at the start of the grass-court season. It’s a good place to be but they need to remain focused and keep doing what they can do.”

The tennis community is described by some as a family. An analogy Keothavong can certainly relate to as she describes herself as a ‘big sister’ to the other girls. Throughout Wimbledon, the home players have spoken out in support of each other with Norrie mentioning their participation in the Battle Of The Brits exhibition helped them form a closer bond.

“If you ask them (the players) they probably say I am like a big sister to them,” she said. “In my role as Billie jean king cup captain, I guess it is important that I do maintain a good relationship with all of the players. I follow their progress and if they need extra support they know I’m there.”
“It’s really important to have that relationship with them as captain and we need to be open with each other. I don’t invade their privacy but they know if they need anything I’m there.”

Under Keothavong’s guidance, the British Billie Jean King Cup team has won six out of their last eight ties since 2019. Their only losses were to the formidable Czech Republic (2-3) earlier this year and Slovakia (1-3) in February 2021.

The team will return to action later this year in the Finals which will be held in Glasgow. Britain has been drawn in the same group as Spain and Kazakhstan.

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(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Brad Gilbert Makes A Bold prediction on Sinner, Backs Kyrgios To Trouble Nadal

Ubitennis has an exclusive interview with the legendary coach of Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray.




When it comes to looking at the current status of men’s tennis Brad Gilbert is perhaps one of the best people to speak to. 


The American reached a high of world No.4 as a player, as well as winning 20 ATP Tour titles. After retiring from the sport in the mid-1990s he has become one of the most well-known coaches in the sport after working with an array of top names. Besides that, he is also an author and commentator on the sport. 

Ubitennis caught up with Gilbert at The All England Club where he spoke highly of Italy’s Jannik Sinner who led Novak Djokovic by two sets before losing in the quarter-finals. He also looks ahead to Nick Kyrgios’ semi-final clash with an injured Rafael Nadal. 

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