Serena Williams ready for comeback after 'ups and downs'

Serena Williams of the US returns the ball to Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia during the Mubadala World Tennis Championship 2017 match in Abu Dhabi, on December 30, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 09 February 2018
0

Serena Williams ready for comeback after 'ups and downs'

ASHEVILLE, USA: Serena Williams has spoken out about the "ups and downs" she faced during her year away from competitive tennis but insists she's now focused and ready for her quest to once more dominate her sport.
Speaking ahead of her comeback at the Fed Cup in Asheville, North Carolina, where the United States will begin the defence of its crown against an unfancied Netherlands team, the 36-year-old said she had the benefit of a new outlook following the birth of her baby daughter Alexis Olympia in September.
"There's been a lot of ups and downs in the practice," Williams told reporters. "It also gives me another view, it's almost relaxing for me as I have nothing to prove. Again, just fighting against all odds to be out there again, to be competing again."
Some of that struggle was apparent during an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi in December, where she lost to French Open Champion Jelena Ostapenko.
Williams was beaten in straight sets and appeared a little slow on her feet, even as she played some fine shots.
She had initially targeted last month's Australian Open crown for a defence of her 2017 crown, but abandoned that goal after declaring she was not "where I personally want to be."
Perhaps wary of setting another ambitious target, Williams refused to be drawn on whether she had set her sights on the year's remaining Grand Slams -- the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.
For now, she appears to be easing her way in and was not named as the United States' first or second singles player in a powerful US team that includes elder sister, world number 17 CoCo Vandeweghe and world number 62 Lauren Davis.
That means she isn't scheduled to play in either of the singles matches on Saturday which are followed by reverse singles on Sunday -- though team captain Kathy Rinaldi did not rule out a change on the second day.
"As far as the lineup, we have the lineup set for tomorrow, then of course we'll wait and see how tomorrow goes, then we'll make our adjustments, if any," she said.
Williams' comeback run comes as another titan of the sport -- Roger Federer -- is enjoying a late-career resurgence, also aged 36.
With three singles Slam titles over the past two years, Federer is now intent on reclaiming his world number one ranking, and becoming the oldest man to do so.
"Roger Federer is a really great tennis player," Williams said of the Swiss great.
"I don't know any tennis player that has not been inspired by him. I definitely have. Yeah, just trekking on, we keep doing the same thing."
While Williams is bidding to emulate Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong and Kim Clijsters in winning a Grand Slam title after having a child, she acknowledged the path had not been straightforward and credited her sister with making it possible.
"I have a great partner and relationship with Venus. She's been really, really positive," she said.
"There's moments that have just been hard, getting back out there doing it every day. You have to get used to that, get in the rhythm of that."
Also credited for a newfound sense of zen was her family life with baby Alexis and husband Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit whom she wed in November.
"It's probably been the most fun of my life," she said.
And though she insists she has nothing left to prove, one professional goal eludes her -- Margaret Court's all-time record for Slam singles titles of 24.
"It goes unsaid 25 is obviously something that I would love, but I'd hate to limit myself," she joked.


Slick Manchester City and awful Arsenal: Five things we learned from the Premier League's opening weekend

Updated 14 August 2018
0

Slick Manchester City and awful Arsenal: Five things we learned from the Premier League's opening weekend

  • Sense of deja vu as new season gets underway.
  • A lot of work needing to be put in by some sides after first fixture.

The Premier League season got underway at the weekend, so we have just the nine months of listening to Jose Mourinho moan, watching Manchester City and Liverpool entertain and a lot of controversy to look forward to. We know it is only one game, but ever keen to put our necks on the line, here is what we think we learned from the first 90 minutes of the season.

LESS IS SOMETIMES MORE
We know it is only one match in, but looking at two London clubs, Tottenham and West Ham, it would seem chequebook management sometimes is not the way forward. Spurs bought no one in the summer, yet looked as clinical as they did last season on their way to a 2-1 away win at Newcastle. The Hammers, on the other hand, spent more than £100 million ($127 million) and looked far from the vibrant, new side the fans had hoped for during Liverpool’s easy 4-0 demolition job. Fans would do well to remember that activity in the transfer market is not the be-all and end-all.

It was a tough opening day for Marko Arnautovic and West Ham despite the money spent over the summer. 

SAME OLD ARSENAL
As with transfers, changing the manager likewise is not a quick cure. Judging from the Gunners’ 2-0 defeat by Manchester City, new boss Unai Emery has a big rebuilding job on his hands. Arsenal looked limp during the clash at the Emirates; City barely broke sweat as they took all the points. It was always appreciated that after 22 years of Arsene Wenger, the Spaniard would need some time to stamp his authority on the side, but on the evidence of one match, he perhaps needs more time than anyone thought. Whether he will be given it is another matter.

New coach but same old faults for Mesut Ozil and Arsenal, as they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City 

WHO NEEDS A HOLIDAY?
Understandably a lot was made of players who had been at the World Cup being rested and easing them into the season. Try telling that to Raheem Sterling (left), Kyle Walker, Deli Alli and Paul Pogba. All four had small breaks
because of the tournament in Russia and all of them looked fresh, energetic and ready for the long season. Not only that, but all of them were key to their sides’ victories. Whether they maintain that form in remains to be seen.

Paul Pogba clearly did not need a longer break after his brilliant goal-scoring display agaisnt Leicester.

NEW BOYS WILL STRUGGLE 
Opening-day fixtures usually bring cheer to newly-promoted sides. It is common to see a few shocks as the unheralded new boys get one over their more established rivals. On paper Fulham, having to face Crystal Palace at home, Wolverhampton playing Everton at home and Cardiff away at Bournemouth all offered the promoted sides great chances of starting the season well. So the fact that between them they only managed a point — with Wolves having a man advantage for most of the match against Everton — does not bode well. Early days, but new clubs need a good start to have a chance of staying up.

Wolverhampton and fellow new boys Fulham and Cardiff all need a quick start to the season to settle their nerves. 

DEJA VU
Yes, the season is only one game old, but already there is a familiar feel to it. City looked imperious at Arsenal (no bad side), Liverpool look like they will score by the bucketload and run City close, Spurs and Manchester United looked solid and tough teams to beat and Chelsea seemed like they will be in the running for the top four. All in all, it is far from revelatory and far from the edge-of-your-seat-drama you would hope for. That, however, is modern-day football and in the long run we hope we are proved wrong and there are a few shocks on the way.

It was business as usual for Liverpool and Mo Salah as they strolled to a 4-0 demolition job of West Ham.