Serena Williams of the U.S.A. leaves the practice courts after a practice session at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 10, 2015. REUTERS
If Serena Williams wanted to sound like someone who did not really care whether she won another Wimbledon or not, telling the world she just wanted to have fun, nobody was fooled on Thursday.
Of course, she managed to pack in plenty of fun in thrashing old foe Maria Sharapova for the 17th time in a row to reach yet another final at the All England Club but the serious entertainment has yet to come.
And make no mistake, the American has every intention of going to the ball.
The top seed will be the overwhelming favourite to beat Spaniard GarbineMuguruza, the 20th seed, and take a sixth Wimbledon singles title – aswell as clinching the ‘Serena Slam’ – holdingall four majors concurrently.
But such talk is banned for the time being, Williams determined to free her mind from any extra pressure, and she preferred to take the more insouciant attitude of an old veteran who has been there, done that, seen it all.
“I’ve won so many grand slam titles. And I’m at a position where I don’t need to win another Wimbledon,” she smiled.
“I could lose tomorrow (Saturday). Sure, I won’t be happy. But I don’t need another Wimbledon title. I don’t need another U.S. Open. I don’t need any titles to make it,” added the 20-times grand slam singles champion, who trails only Margaret Court (24) and Steffi Graf (22) in the list of major winners.
“Every time I step out on court, the practice court, the match court, I do look at it as a more fun time because it’s not as much stressful as it was. Like getting to 18 was super stressful for me. It was fun, but I was so stressed out.”
Muguruza will be making her first appearance in a grand slam final but Williams can take nothing for granted against a player who beat her in the French Open second round last year and has nothing to lose.
Williams said she had learned a lot from that encounter.”It was an eye‑opening loss for me,” she said. “Some losses you’re angry about, and some losses you learn from. That loss I think I learned the most from in a long time.I got so much better after that loss. I was able to improve a lot. I worked on things.
“It was really an experience that helped me say, Okay, Serena, you want to be the best, you’re going to have to do certain things and you’re going to have to improve certain things.”
Williams walking out for a Wimbledon final has become a familiar sight over the last decade, even if she has not won since 2012, but she said she would still be feeling the butterflies on Saturday.
“I get nervous every time I walk out on the court. I think that is a special feeling,” she said. “I’ll be concerned if I wasn’t nervous. I’ll be like, Ooh. Maybe it’s not the same for me and doesn’t mean as much for me.”