TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – 28th of June. A. Cornet d. S. Williams 1-6, 6-3, 6-4. An interview with Serena Williams
Q. You were so much in control at the end of that first set. What happened?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know. I tried and it just didn’t work out.
Q. You seemed frustrated by all the dropshots. Was that a tactic she used in Dubai also?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I guess so. I wasn’t really frustrated by all the dropshots. I just think – no, I wasn’t really frustrated by them.
Q. Were you frustrated at all by being scheduled on Court 1 and not Centre Court?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, not at all.
Q. Didn’t seem like you were swinging very freely through the second and third sets. Just weren’t feeling the ball well? What was going on there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Really? I thought I was swinging freely. Maybe I wasn’t.
I’ll have to go back and look and see. But, yeah, so initially I thought I was swinging and hitting pretty hard.
Q. What were the things that she was doing especially well and what was giving you the most trouble in this match?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, she kept her unforced errors really low. I don’t know. I think I made a few errors too many. You know, she was going for her shots.
Yeah, she played really well today.
Q. We’re used to seeing you dominate so powerfully in slams. Do you sense this season it’s a case of other women closing the gap or more that you’re not playing to your potential?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I think everyone in general plays the match of their lives against me. So I’m pretty sure that the next match, it won’t be the same.
So I just have to always, every time I step on the court, be a hundred times better. If I’m not, then I’m in trouble.
Q. Do you see any common thread between what happened at the Australian Open, what happened in Paris, and what happened here?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. Australia, I just couldn’t play. And Paris I played really bad. Here I actually thought I played better. I came into the tournament in better form.
You know, I thought I was doing pretty decent. I think I’m going to have to watch this film and see what I can do better and what went wrong.
Q. Your serve has bailed you out of a lot of situations. Is that a stroke that hasn’t been up to par in general this year and at this tournament?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I thought my first two matches I served well. Today, I don’t know the percentages of my serve, but I do know I didn’t hit as many aces. I think my first serve was down a little bit.
Yeah, so definitely. I worked really hard on my serve, so I don’t know why it didn’t happen today.
Q. You’ve been the dominant player of our era. Your confidence must be shaken a little bit. Can you talk about your confidence, maybe what you want to do to get things going.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I don’t know. Like I said, I worked really, really hard coming into this event. I’m going to have to keep working hard.
You know, just ’cause you lose a match doesn’t mean you stop. You just got to kind of keep going.
Like I said, maybe it wasn’t for today. Maybe it’s for tomorrow. So I’ll just keep fighting. That’s all I can do really.
Q. Frustrations like today, is that what drives you to keep coming back? When you come back next year, will you keep this defeat in mind to give you that motivation to try to succeed?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Uhm, I don’t know. I don’t know if I will keep it in mind. I think this defeat is important to study. Right now I don’t really know what I did wrong. Usually I do. Usually I know I did this, this, and that.
I mean, I have a few ideas, but this will be a really good one for me to kind of like assess and figure out what I can do to do better next time.
Q. How unusual is it to be in that situation where you come off the court and you aren’t sure why exactly you lost? Has that happened to you before?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it’s happened to me a few times. But it’s fun. It kind of gives you a mission to work on, gives you goals to work towards to kind of see what you can do to do better.
Q. You had spoken a couple times about how the women step up and play the match of their lives against you. Can you talk about that, why that is.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know. I think it’s always kind of been like that, so I always have to be ready. If I’m not, then I’m not. But I have to be ready for that. Since I do know that, it’s no excuse.
If they want to play well, that’s great. It gives me great competition. I think it makes for a wonderful match.
I have to be ready. I have to be ready to play anyone at any given time.
Q. Among all the factors that are still driving you to compete and push yourself, where does that 18th major rank? Is that a significant motivating factor for you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think it’s definitely pretty significant. It’s something I’m obviously going to keep going for. But it’s definitely something in my mind, pretty important.
Q. Being that close to equaling Martina and Chris, is that at all in your mind as a pressure point for you, something that’s preoccupying you at these slams?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I don’t think so, because I haven’t gotten too far to kind of feel that pressure, so…
Yeah, I don’t think it’s been that much on my mind.
Q. Before the tournament you said that you weren’t over the French Open loss. Did you continue to feel that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, not at all. I actually feel like that loss helped me work on some things and see things that I needed to see. I think that loss really, really helped me and motivated me to go home and put a lot of effort on the court and work out really hard.
EXCLUSIVE: How The ATP Plans To Make The Tour More Welcoming For LGBT Players
The governing body of men’s tennis has received praise for taking a proactive approach to the topic with the help of a leading LGBTQ+ organisation and a top research university.
During the first week of the US Open, there was an abundance of rainbow-theme flags and wristbands worn by both players and fans to mark the tournament’s first-ever Open Pride Day.
The event was part of the USTA’s Diversity and Inclusion strategic platform which aims to make tennis more inclusive. Unlike the women’s game, there are no openly LGBTQ+ players on the men’s Tour and there have been few historically, even though various players have spoken of their support for anybody on the Tour who decides to come out. Including Stefanos Tsitsipas and newly crowned US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, who were questioned about the topic following their second round matches. Meanwhile, Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime revealed that there is an ongoing survey related to LGBTQ+ issues being conducted by the ATP.
“Recently I’ve started doing a survey inside the ATP about the LGBTQ+ community,” he said. “It’s important these days to be aware of that and to be open-minded and the ATP needs to do that, in today’s time it’s needed.
“The reason we don’t have openly gay players on the ATP Tour, I’m not sure of the reason, but I feel me, as a player, it would be very open, very welcome. Statistically, there should be some, but for now there’s not.”
In response to Auger-Aliassime’s comment, UbiTennis looked into the work currently being done by the ATP alongside two other parties. Their decision to venture into LGBTQ+ representation on the Tour is part of their recent commitment to support the mental health and wellbeing of their players and staff. Last year, in May, they formed partnerships with Headspace and Sporting Chance.
The survey currently being conducted by the ATP started after the governing body of men’s tennis reached out to Lou Englefield, the director of Pride Sports, a UK organisation that focuses on LGBTQ+phobia in sport and aims to improve access to sport for all LGBTQ+ people. Through their connection, they contacted Eric Denison, a behavioural science researcher at Monash University’s School of Social Sciences. Denison was the lead author of the Out on the Fields study, the first international study on homophobia in sport and the largest conducted to date.
“I have been personally impressed with the initiative of the ATP and their desire to find ways to mitigate the broad impact of homophobic behaviour (in particular), not only on gay people, but on all players.” He told UbiTennis during an email exchange.
“We know of no other sporting governing body in the world that has been proactive on LGBTQ+ issues, and has taken a strong focus on engaging with both the LGBTQ+ community and scientists to find solutions.”
Denison says the norm has been for sports bodies to address this issue after they have been either pressured to do so or if the LGBTQ+ community got the ball rolling themselves. Incredibly, research conducted as part of the Out On The Fields initiative documented 30 separate studies which found sports organisations ignored discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ people in sport.
Monash University has supplied the ATP with a series of scientifically validated questions, which they are using to ‘look under the hood’ at the factors which supports a culture where gay or bisexual players feel they are not welcome. The methodology is similar to a study Denison conducted in 2020 that focused specifically on the team sports rugby union and ice hockey.
“We suspect that tennis isn’t inherently more homophobic than other sports, or traditionally male settings. Instead, there is a disconnect between people’s attitudes towards gay people (e.g. the recent pro-gay comments by top players) and their behaviour, specifically their use of homophobic banter and jokes,” said Denison.
“This behaviour, which is largely habitual, creates a hostile climate for young gay/bi people who drop out or hide their sexuality. This means gay/bi players are invisible in youth tennis and leads to the downstream problem of no professionals. The banter/jokes continue because people think it is harmless.”
The hope is that players will also agree to be interviewed by the researchers for them to get a better understanding. All of the results will then be used by Pride Sports and Monash University to recommend evidence-based solutions. It is unclear as to how long the study will take or when the findings will be ready.
Former top 100 player Brian Vahaly is one of the few players to have been both openly gay and played at the highest level of the men’s game. However, he didn’t fully come to terms with his sexuality until after retiring from the sport at age 27. Speaking to UbiTennis earlier this year, Vahaly shed light on the potential barriers for gay players.
“There were a lot of homophobic jokes made on Tour. It’s a very masculine and competitive environment,” he said. “You don’t see a lot of gay representation, except for the women’s Tour. With me not having the personality of an outspoken advocate (for LGBTQ+ issues), certainly not in my twenties, I needed some time to understand myself. To me, in tennis I didn’t feel like there was anybody to talk to or anybody that was going through anything similar.”
The ATP has spoken with Vahaly about their initiative and he has become ‘quite involved.’ Through their discussions, he got acquainted with Denison for the first time. As a professional, Vahaly peaked at a ranking high of 64th in the world and won five Challenger titles. After retiring from the Tour, he has served on the USTA’s board of directors since 2013.
“I am happy to hear that the ATP is finally taking action to address this issue. I’m impressed they are taking a thoughtful, data-driven approach to make a meaningful difference here,” he told UbiTennis.
The ATP aims to make the men’s Tour more welcoming to potential LGTBQ+ athletes playing either now or in the future. For those who question if such an initiative is important in 2021, you only have to look at the younger demographic.
Sportsnet quoted CDC data from 2019 which showed that 26% of American LGBTQ+ teenagers aged 16 or 17 has contemplated suicide, five times more than those who identify as straight (5%). Among those teenagers who heard homophobic terms, 33% self-harmed and an additional 40% considered doing so.
More than 2000 players around the world currently have an ATP ranking.
2020 Tokyo Olympics, Djokovic on the heat and the new scheduling: “I’m glad they listened to us”
Speaking to Ubitennis, the world number one describes the work that he, Medvedev and Zverev (among others) have done to obtain better playing conditions
So far, the tennis tournament at the 2020 Olympics has made headlines less for the match-play than for the difficult conditions in which it has been taking place due to the heat and the humidity. In the women’s draw, for instance, four players have been forced to retire during their matches: the last one has been particularly shocking, as Paula Badosa was taken off-court on a wheelchair after collapsing late in the first set of her quarter-final match against Marketa Vondrousova. Luckily, these issues appear to have finally caught the attention of the International Tennis Federation: starting tomorrow, no match will be played before 3pm (7am in the UK).
Part of the credit for this (still belated) decision goes to the lobbying and the complaints of the players, as world N.1 Novak Djokovic explained while speaking to Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta in Tokyo: “I’m glad the decision was made to reschedule tomorrow’s opening matches at 3pm. Today we went to speak to the supervisor – when I say ‘we’ I mean myself, Medvedev, and Zverev, along with the team captains. I have spoken to Khachanov and Carreno Busta as well, so the majority of the players who will feature in the quarter finals was of the same opinion.
“Of course I would have wished for this decision to be made a few days ago, but it’s still a good thing,” he added. “Nobody wants to witness incidents like the one that occurred to Badosa.
“The conditions are really brutal. Some people might think that we are just complaining, but all resistance sports (and tennis should be included among them) are taking place later in the day because the combination between the heat and the humidity is really terrible.”
He then concluded: “I’ve been a professional tennis player for almost 20 years and I’ve never experienced such hard conditions for so many consecutive days. It may have have happened once or twice in Miami or New York, but just for one day, whereas in Tokyo the situation is like this every day. I think that this decision will benefit the fans as well, because playing later allows us to play our best – these conditions were just draining for us.”
Article by Lorenzo Colle; translated by Tommaso Villa
Mats Wilander Exclusive: Matteo Berrettini Will Win A Grand Slam
UbiTennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta speaks to the former world No.1 about Berrettini’s historic win at Wimbledon.
Swedish tennis great Mats Wilander has praised Matteo Berrettini for his run to the Wimbledon Final during a one-to-one interview with UbiTennis.
25-year-old Berrettini has become the first Italian man in history to reach the final of the Grand Slam after beating Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 6-0, 6-7(3), 6-4. Throughout the clash he was impressive behind his serve where he fired 22 aces and won 86% of his service points. This year he is unbeaten on the grass and is currently on a 10-match winning streak following his triumph at Queen’s last month.
“Breaking the first game of the fourth set is to me the sign that we all look for in players. Whatever happens in the third (set) should not matter and he came straight back,”Wilander tells UbiTennis.
“That’s my indication that he will be one of the best players in the world. He will win a Grand Slam one hundred percent, for sure, if he stays healthy.”
Wilander’s bold prediction centres around Berrettini’s game on both grass and hardcourt. However, he is less optimistic about his chances on the clay at present until his backhand becomes more powerful.
As to why the former world No.1 has so much confidence in Italy’s top player, he says it is his ability to not expose his weaknesses during matches. Drawing parallels between him and Roger Federer. The player Berrettini comprehensively beat in straight sets earlier in the week.
“He knows how to hide his weakness and most great players know how to hide their weaknesses. Roger Federer is the perfect example. His backhand compared to the serve and the forehand. He stays alive with the slice and he comes over (to the net) sometimes when he has to,” he said.
“I think Matteo has figured out that he can stay alive with the slice. But the difference is that he is willing to slice and come in. He’s also double the size of Federer at the net so it is difficult to pass him.”
It wasn’t until the age of eight when Berrettini started to focus more on tennis after being asked by his younger brother to play more. As a professional he has won five ATP titles since 2018 and is the highest ranked ATP player from his country since Corrado Barazzutti back in 1978. He is coached by Vincenzo Santopadre, Marco Gulisano and Umberto Rianna.
“I would be so encouraged if I was coaching him. For the coach it must be like oh my god we are looking at a player who has (good use of his) hands and hides his weakness though the rest of his game,” the seven-time Grand Slam champion commented.
“I don’t why it has taken him a bit longer (to break through). I know he started a little bit later but I think he’s a natural at the big moments.”
On Sunday Berrettini faces the ultimate test against Novak Djokovic who will be seeking his third consecutive Wimbledon title and sixth overall. He has lost to the Serbian twice before on the Tour, including the French Open earlier this year. The Italian enters the final as the underdog but Wilander thinks he shouldn’t be underestimated.
“I think he has a good chance, I really do because that serve (of his) is different and he has a different forehand. He is not afraid to stay alive,” he concluded.
UbiTennis’ full interview with Wilander can be listened to below
Anhelina Kalinina beats Daria Kasatkina at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow
Arthur Rinderknech beats Federico Delbonis to reach the second round in Antwerp
Novak Djokovic Undecided Over Playing Australian Open, Slams Speculation Over His Vaccination Status
Marin Cilic overcomes Damir Dzumhur at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow
Andrey Rublev defends his title at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow
REPORT: Unvaccinated Players Set To Be Banned From Playing Australian Open
ATP Moves Closer To Staging Five More 12-Day Masters 1000 Events After Board Approval
WTA Luxembourg Open Axed Over Disagreements Between Tour And Organisers
Injured Roger Federer Says The ‘Worst Is Behind Him’ As He Targets Comeback In 2022
EXPLAINED: Why Novak Djokovic’s Latest Trip To Bosnia Has Caused Controversy
US Open, Steve Flink: “Djokovic’s loss had more to do with fatigue than pressure”
US Open, Steve Flink on the Murray-Tsitsipas Controversy
(VIDEO) Dominic Thiem, Juan Martin Del Potro Gathering Momentum In Comeback Bids
Steve Flink On Wimbledon: “Bautista Agut would be a tough semifinal test for Djokovic”
Wimbledon, Flink: “Djokovic Will Beat Zverev in the Final”
Focus3 days ago
Alexander Zverev Seeks Rest And Improvement After Indian Wells Exit
ATP1 day ago
Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days
Hot Topics2 days ago
Nikoloz Basilashvili Puts ‘Small Country’ Georgia On The Map With Historic Run To Indian Wells Final
Focus2 days ago
Indian Wells Daily Preview: The Men’s Semifinals
Hot Topics17 hours ago
Lost Shoes Fails To Stop Cameron Norrie From Becoming First Brit To Win Indian Wells
Hot Topics4 hours ago
Novak Djokovic Undecided Over Playing Australian Open, Slams Speculation Over His Vaccination Status
Focus2 days ago
Daniil Medvedev Withdraws From Moscow
Hot Topics2 days ago
Cameron Norrie Eyes Grand Slam Breakthrough Following Indian Wells Run