Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Serena works to relax, enjoy the moment

NEW YORK — Despite everything Serena Williams has won and done, her sense of self can still fluctuate based on the outcome of a match.

It doesn't always seem to matter that she owns a record-tying 22 major singles titles heading into the U.S. Open, which begins today. It's not necessarily a big deal to her that she has spent the past 31/2 years entrenched at No. 1 and at 34 is the oldest woman to top the WTA rankings. And at times she forgets that she transcends her sport and has become a cultural icon.

Williams is devastated when she is dealt a setback, such as last year's loss to No. 43 Roberta Vinci in the U.S. Open semifinals, a defeat that ended her bid for the first calendar-year Grand Slam in more than 25 years. Williams said she measures herself constantly, "which I don't think is normal. I definitely feel like when I lose, I don't feel as good about myself."

"But then I have to, like, remind myself that: 'You are Serena Williams!' " Williams continued, laughing. "And it's those moments that I have to just, like, come off and be like, 'Serena, do you know what you've done? Who you are? What you continue to do, not only in tennis (but also) off the court? Like, you're awesome.' That really just shows the human side of me. I'm not a robot."

After equaling Steffi Graf for the most major titles in the Open era (from 1968) by winning Wimbledon last month, Williams can earn No. 23 in New York. Only Margaret Court owns more major titles, with 24, but more than half of them came against amateur competition. Not that Williams was ready to think about topping Graf: "One thing I learned about last year is to enjoy the moment. I'm definitely going to enjoy this."

Not everything has gone smoothly for Williams since Wimbledon. Slowed by a bothersome right shoulder, she lost in the third round of singles and first round of doubles at this month's Olympics — she was the 2012 gold medalist in both — and then pulled out of a hardcourt tuneup event in Ohio.

On the men's side: Novak Djokovic is the No. 1 seed and undisputed No. 1 player, but the defending champion comes to New York after losing in Wimbledon's third round and the Olympics' first round, and pulling out of the Ohio tournament with a sore left wrist. Andy Murray won Wimbledon and successfully defended his Olympic title. "Novak … the last two years, really, has played amazing tennis," Murray said. "What I've done for, like, the last four months, he's been doing for … the whole year. So I need to try and keep that going."

.FAST FACTS

U.S. Open

Last major of the year, today-Sept. 11, National Tennis Center, New York

Surface: Hardcourt

2015 champions: Novak Djokovic and Flavia Pennetta, who retired after last season

Top seeds: Djokovic and Serena Williams

Who's missing: Roger Federer (left knee), Maria Sharapova (doping suspension), Victoria Azarenka (pregnant), Tomas Berdych (appendicitis)

What's new: A $150 million retractable roof at the main court, Arthur Ashe Stadium, which will allow play when it rains.

Prize money: Total payout to players is a tournament-record $46.3 million, a $4 million increase from 2015. The men's and women's singles champs receive $3.5 million each, up from $3.3 million last year.

TV today: 1 p.m., ESPN; 6, ESPN2

Serena works to relax, enjoy the moment 08/28/16 [Last modified: Sunday, August 28, 2016 9:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander

    Bucs

    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  2. Rays journal: Blake Snell continues roll in win over Cubs (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was still a game in the fifth inning when LHP Blake Snell walked the leadoff batter, then allowed a single. One swing by the Cubs' Ian Happ (22 home runs) could put a dent in the Rays' three-run lead.

    Blake Snell allows just two hits in pitching seven scoreless innings.
  3. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.

    Figures.

    Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) grounds into a double play to end the top of the third inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    One success story of this lost season is the emergence of LHP Blake Snell as the frontline starter the Rays projected. After a rough start and two demotions, he has been rolling, Wednesday's solid seven innings making him 4-0, 2.57 in his past eight starts.

  5. Rays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Orioles

    7:05, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM; 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    This is a 2017 photo of Matt Andriese of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)