Serena Williams Talks ‘Intense’ Training, Social Media Absence And Olympics Ahead Of Rome Return - UBITENNIS
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Serena Williams Talks ‘Intense’ Training, Social Media Absence And Olympics Ahead Of Rome Return

The former world No.1 speaks out about her recent time away from the Tour and hints she may not play a big tennis tournament later in the season.

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September 10, 2020 - Serena Williams in action against Victoria Azarenka during a women's singles match at the 2020 US Open. (Photo by Simon Bruty/USTA)

After almost three months away from the spotlight Serena Williams is tuning up her game ahead of her return to the Tour in Rome later this week.

 

The 23-time Grand Slam champion hasn’t played a Tour match since her semi-final loss to Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open. It was during that same time where once again questions started to rise over the future of the 39-year-old and when she may decide to step away from the sport permanently.

However, retirement appears to be the last thing on Williams’ mind as she switches her focus to the European clay. She hasn’t played on the surface since last year’s French Open where she was forced to withdraw after winning her opening match due to injury. Despite her lack of match play in recent time, the American insists that she is ready for the challenge.

I trained for the past two-and-a-half weeks at (coach) Patrick’s (Mouratoglou) academy, and then training a lot on the clay in the United States with team members,” Williams told reporters on Monday. “We had an intense several weeks of training,very intense.”

Unlike some of her peers, Williams is at times hesitant to post updates on her social media accounts about her training routines. Something that baffles some considering she has a following of more than 13 million on Instagram and 10 million on Twitter. However, the former world No.1 has her own personal reason for not doing so.

“I really try not to get too involved in what people say about me because I feel like it can make you nuts” she said.
“Whether it’s good or bad. I don’t really try to think too much of myself in that way at all. I think that’s one thing I’m really good at is just to not really even engage so much.’
“I don’t show what I do. I don’t always show my cards but I feel like for the most part I just never ever pay attention (to what is being said), which is good.”


A three-time French Open champion, this week Williams is seeking her first WTA trophy on the clay since 2016 when she triumphed in Rome. Overall, 13 out of her 73 WTA titles have been won on the surface.

Olympics in doubt

Whilst her schedule for the coming months yet to be outlined, Williams admits that she is unsure about whether she will participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games which has been delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. International Athletes attending have been told that they are not allowed to bring their family members.

That ruling could prove to be a deal breaker for Williams who will have to travel to the event without her three-year-old daughter.

“I haven’t really thought much about that,” she said on playing the Olympics. “That’s a really good question. I haven’t spent 24 hours without her, so that kind of answers the question itself. We’re best friends.
“I have really been taking it one day at a time to a fault, and I definitely need to figure out my next moves.”

Williams is one of the most decorated tennis players in Olympic history with three gold medals from doubles and one from singles won between 2000-2016.

Seeded eighth in Rome, Williams will start her campaign against either Nadia Podoroska or Laura Siegemund.

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Daniil Medvedev Searching For Confidence Boost Ahead Of Wimbledon

The two-time Grand Slam finalist says he is not the same player as he was two years ago when he last played Wimbledon.

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When it comes to playing on the grass this year Daniil Medvedev admits that the biggest issue for him might concern the mental side of the sport as opposed to the physical side.

 

The world No.2 kicked-off his grass swing last week in Halle where he was stunned in the first round by Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting the Tour in 2020, that was the first time the Russian had played a match on the surface in almost two years. Short on matches, Medvedev is back in action this week in Mallorca after taking a wildcard into the tournament.

“I like to play on grass, I just need to get some confidence in my game on the surface, because we didn’t play [on it] for two years. Two years ago, I was not the same player as I am right now,” Medvedev told atptour.com. “It is tough for me to say where I see myself, but I know I can play very good on this surface. I just need to find the right balance.”

Since he last played at Wimbledon, Medvedev surged on the ATP Tour by winning six titles with all of them being on a hardcourt. Furthermore, he also reached the final of the US Open in 2019 and the Australian Open this year. He is the first player outside of the Big Four to be ranked in the world’s top two since July 2005.

Despite his previous success on the grass, Medvedev admits he remains wary about playing on the surface and the conditions he may face.

“When I started playing on grass, I played in Challengers and even in [ATP] Tour tournaments on the outside courts, not on the central courts, and I can tell that the central courts are quite slow,” he said. “Especially the match I played with Gilles Simon at Queen’s [Club], we had rallies of 40 shots every second point. That is what makes it a little bit tougher.
“When I practise on practice courts, I feel like I am playing so good as the ball is so fast. Then I come onto the centre court to play the match, and the ball just stops after the bounce, and you have to adapt your game, so it can be tough. But I know I can play really well on grass.”

In Mallorca Medvedev has a bye in the first round. His opening match will be against either South Africa’s Lloyd Harris or France’s Corentin Moutet.

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Samsonova Battles Past Bencic To Win Maiden Title In Berlin, Gets Wimbledon Wild Card

The Russian qualifier has stunned the tournament with a run that also seen her defeat Madison Keys and Victoria Azarenka.

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image via https://twitter.com/bett1open

Liudmila Samsonova is the 2021 Bett1 Open champion after pulling off another upset by beating number five seed Belinda Bencic 1-6, 6-1, 6-2 in front of a capacity crowd on Steffi Graff Stadion under hot and humid conditions.

 

The 22-year-old underdog caps off what has been a fairytale run in Germany for the qualifier. Prior to the tournament Samsonova had never beaten a top 20 player in her career or reached a Tour final. Against Bencic she hit 28 winners to 15 unforced errors and won 66% of her service points.

” I was so nervous today even before the match and during the first set so after the first set I took a toilet break and told myself to play a more aggressive game and it worked,” Samsonova said following her triumph.

It was world No.12 Bencic who got off to a fast start by holding serve comfortably and than the following game setting up the first break chance with a return forehand winner before the Russian would double fault twice in a row to give the early break. At 3-0 the Swiss found herself again at double breakpoint and managed to seal the it en route to taking the first set in just 28 minutes.

However, the second set was the total opposite with underdog Samsonova holding serve and breaking the very next game with a powerful forehand winner. Like Bencic in the first set, she turned her lead into a double break and served out the second set.

The Russian carried the momentum into the third and deciding set earning a chance to break in the first game and the world No.12 would double fault to give the break. At 4-2 the world No.106 had a chance to go up a double break but Bencic managed to save it and hold serve before going on the offensive. The Swiss had two chances of her own to go back on serve but the Russian saved all three breakpoints she faced.

At 5-3 the Samsonova had two chances to seal the match and the title on her opponents serve. Bencic saved the first one but the world number 106 would seal the win on the second.

In her post match press conference Samsonova explained how once she levelled the match was able to close it out.

” I was trying to keep my game going and try to be aggressive on my first shot and my serve and on the return and that is what I was focusing on”.

The young Russian now has her sights sets on Wimbledon as she awarded a main draw wild card after the match.

“They just told me that I’m going to have the wildcard for the main draw, so I’m so happy,” she said.

Samsonova is the 10th first-time WTA champion this season.

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Victoria Azarenka, Aryna Sabalenka To Team Up For Olympic Bid

The two players say their main focus is on playing singles but a ‘great opportunity’ has presented itself.

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image via https://twitter.com/bett1open

The two highest ranked WTA players from Belarus are being considered as strong contenders to win an Olympic medal later this year after they recently confirmed plans to join forces.

 

Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka are set to play in the women’s doubles tournament despite only playing together five times before on the WTA Tour. The duo has illustrated their potential at the Bett1 Open in Berlin, where they clinched the title on Sunday. In the final the pair upset top seeds Nicole Melichar and Demi Schuurs 4-6, 7-5, 10-7, to claim their first ever trophy together.

We both brought a different level, mindset than a few years ago. It was important to play together to feel each other’s game, see what we can try, apply what works, what we can work on. Our priority is singles but it’s a great opportunity at the Olympics to team up,” WTA Insider quoted Azarenka as saying following the final on Sunday.

Whilst they are both best known for their singles game, they have also had previous success in the doubles. Sabalenka won the 2019 US Open and 2021 Australian Open alongside Elise Mertens, as well as three Premier titles.

“We’ll play at the Olympics. To win a title, it gives us a lot of confidence and we feel each other better and players will know that we are playing good with each other and it’s more confidence for us and more pressure for other players,” the world No.4 commented.

Azarenka has already enjoyed success at the Olympics in her career. In 2012 she defeated Russia’s Maria Kirilenko in straight sets to win a bronze medal. During the same year she won gold in the mixed doubles alongside Max Mirnyi. Making her the only Belarusian tennis player in history to have won multiple Olympic medals.

This year’s Tokyo Olympic tennis tournament will be held at the Ariake Tennis Park and will get underway on July 24th.

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