Serena Article:She figures big -
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post #1 of 42 (permalink) Old Mar 21st, 2007, 07:44 AM Thread Starter
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Serena Article:She figures big

She figures big
By Charles Elmore
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A head-snapping comeback from No. 140 in the world last July to win the Australian Open in January has, well, rekindled communications between Serena Williams and corporate America.

Advertisers had not exactly gone away, but neither were they rushing money to her as fast as they were to rivals such as Maria Sharapova. A two-year drought of tournament victories will do that. Forbes magazine estimated last year that Williams makes $10 million in endorsement and prize money annually compared to Sharapova's $19 million.

Talks are ongoing between Williams and half a dozen companies that sell automobiles, timepieces, technology and fragrances. In a few weeks, Camp Serena is expected to announce a deal for a skin-care product.

Williams, who takes the court this week for the first time since Australia at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, is no stranger to a business meeting, certainly. But this is a new era in the Serena saga.

At 25, her image is no longer that of the cat-suited superheroine who dominated her sport with the "Serena Slam" of four straight majors four years ago.

This is a woman frequently criticized for her weight, chided for her socializing and fledgling careers in entertainment and fashion and questioned for her commitment to tennis. She was politely but firmly called out in an open letter by one of the legends of her sport, Chris Evert, to get in shape and make the most of her abilities.

She is now a different kind of heroine in the eyes of Robyn McGee, the Los Angeles-based author of Hungry for More: A Keeping-it-Real Guide for Black Women on Weight and Body Image.

"She's a huge role model for not just African-American women but all people who have been told you don't have the right dimensions," McGee said Tuesday. "She's not 15 anymore. She has a lot in common with a broad cross section of America. Six out of 10 Americans are considered overweight.

"She's still marketed as her own brand of sex symbol, not as a full-figured clothing spokeswoman. She's not Queen Latifah, but she's one of a kind."

Williams is doing it her way. Her efforts to get back in condition after a 2003 knee surgery haven't produced any dramatic skinny-Oprah moment as she emerges from the player's tunnel. When she's on, her serve and her forehand do the talking.

"I know I am larger than some women players," Williams said in Melbourne's afterglow. But the size of her will seems to matter most.

She admitted she was stung by a loss to Sybille Bammer in a warm-up event, her only loss in 10 matches this year. "I was really angry. I just felt like I should have won."

The world is starting to see Serena through a new lens, her agent Jill Smoller believes.

"She is somebody who has struggles in her life that people can go through," Smoller said. "She's approachable in a different way now. She has become a real person to many fans in a way they may not feel with other tennis players."

It wasn't that Williams bought into tabloid headlines that called her "overweight" and "overpaid" and openly asked whether her tennis career was finished. But she acknowledged that the thought has crossed her mind, in quiet moments at home in Palm Beach Gardens, that maybe she was not going to win a major tournament again.

"There's always times out there where you think, you know, 'Am I ever going to be looking at another trophy?' " Williams said. "Especially since I hadn't won a tournament - let alone a Grand Slam - I hadn't won a tournament in a long time. You know, you're thinking about, 'Wow, will there be another time?''

Her family picked her up, she said.

"Since Day One, my parents, my mom and my dad, have always been so positive," Williams said. "They never stopped believing in me. That helps me believe in me. Venus, as well. I live with her, so I'm with her every day. We always, like, believe in ourselves. You know, it works."

What haunts her, though, are the comparisons to her earlier self. Dominating women's tennis as long as Roger Federer has ruled the men's game would be "the ultimate experience," Williams said this year, prodded by a question. "He's definitely like a role model to me."

Williams did hold the sport in a Federer-like vise for 57 weeks at No. 1, through Aug. 11, 2003. That's about one-third the record 164 weeks Federer has held the men's top spot.

Could it happen again? Probably not, said Mary Joe Fernandez, who will analyze the Sony Ericsson Open for ESPN2.

"I don't think we're ever going to see her play a ton of tournaments, mainly because of her knee," Fernandez said. "That might be tough for her fans to accept, but she's going to pick and choose. But to me, when she's on her game, she's the best one out there."

Williams has pulled out of or skipped every event since Australia, citing a sudden flu in one instance. Her ranking has slipped slightly since February to 18th in the world. That is high enough to place her among seeded players, but in Key Biscayne she will not be able to coast to the quarterfinals. She could meet the winner of a match between top seed Sharapova and sister Venus in the fourth round.

Regardless of Serena's ranking, people tend to watch, said Leif Shiras, commentator for the Tennis Channel, which will carry 64 hours of coverage from Key Biscayne.

"No doubt when Serena is playing you have more viewers," Shiras said. "The fact she's built and made the way she is, I think people can relate to her in a way - perhaps more so than someone like Maria Sharapova. Serena brings to the table a remarkable dimension."

That dimension has never been more evident since Australia.

"I think what happened in Australia was her saying you don't know until you walk in someone's shoes," Smoller said. "She was saying, in effect, 'Here's how I am built. Deal with it. I'm not going to weigh 110 pounds. I'm comfortable with it.' It's how most of the world is. I think people related to her and identified with her."

Last edited by Tech1; Mar 21st, 2007 at 07:55 AM.
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post #2 of 42 (permalink) Old Mar 21st, 2007, 07:54 AM
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Re: Serena Article:

Good for Serena, she's upping her endorsement game too.

"I want you to believe in yourself in every positive thing you do, and success will be your portion,"
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post #3 of 42 (permalink) Old Mar 21st, 2007, 08:02 AM
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Re: Serena Article:She figures big

That's a nice, balanced article. Nice to see Serena has quite moments of doubt like everyone else! Also great to see that the hunger to win is still there big time. She's only 25, if she wants she could get to no 1 again quite esaily I think.
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post #4 of 42 (permalink) Old Mar 21st, 2007, 08:10 AM
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Re: Serena Article:She figures big

good article!

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post #5 of 42 (permalink) Old Mar 21st, 2007, 08:15 AM
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Re: Serena Article:She figures big

One of the best articles in recent times

Really, don't even look at me...
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post #6 of 42 (permalink) Old Mar 21st, 2007, 09:17 AM
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Re: Serena Article:She figures big


I'm not young enough to know everything.
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post #7 of 42 (permalink) Old Mar 21st, 2007, 09:27 AM
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Re: Serena Article:She figures big

thanks for posting

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post #8 of 42 (permalink) Old Mar 21st, 2007, 10:32 AM
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Re: Serena Article:She figures big

Serena is worth every penny that she makes, I wonder what her skin care product will be like?!

Good article!

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post #9 of 42 (permalink) Old Mar 21st, 2007, 10:33 AM
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Re: Serena Article:She figures big

Thanks For Sharing!

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post #10 of 42 (permalink) Old Mar 21st, 2007, 10:47 AM
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Re: Serena Article:She figures big

nice article..

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post #11 of 42 (permalink) Old Mar 21st, 2007, 11:17 AM
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Re: Serena Article:She figures big

Great positive and insightful article! You go, Rena, with your PHAT (Plenty Hips And Thighs) self.

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post #12 of 42 (permalink) Old Mar 21st, 2007, 12:27 PM
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Re: Serena Article:She figures big

Serena . Let's go girls in Miami . Too bad she might have to run into a roadblock named Venus. If it's Sharapova, then i know who i'll be pulling for . But go Venus

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post #13 of 42 (permalink) Old Mar 21st, 2007, 01:09 PM
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Re: Serena Article:She figures big

Posted on Tue, Mar. 20, 2007

Serena not to be taken lightly

Many of the world's top tennis players were sweating it out at a tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., last week, all their attention focused between the baselines.

Not Serena Williams.

She spent last Monday in a fire suit, strapped into a NASCAR race car, sweating bullets as she sped 130 mph around Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., with actor William Shatner and singer Jewel for an upcoming reality TV show called Fast Cars andSuperstars.

Williams, always craving challenges, admitted this one was a bit more than she had bargained for.

''Scariest experience of my life,'' said Williams, reached by phone Saturday as she prepared for the Sony Ericsson Open, which begins today on Key Biscayne. 'All of a sudden, as I was racing around the turns, I was thinking, `This could kill me. I'm insane. What am I doing?' ''

Many tennis observers might be asking the same question of the former world No. 1. Why on earth would a woman coming off a stirring Australian Open title run divert her attention from tennis? Why wouldn't she devote every waking minute to the sport that made her famous, the sport she and her sister, Venus, so thoroughly dominated from 1999 to 2003?

Why would she choose not to play any tournaments between the Australian Open and this week?

Williams has her reasons, and she makes no apologies for dabbling in the entertainment and fashion worlds.

''I've been playing tennis since I was 4 years old, I'm a darned good player and I've always had outside interests,'' Williams said. ``If all I did was play tennis, I'd be burnt out by now and out of the game. I really believe that. It's not to say I don't work hard at tennis. It's a big misconception when people think I just show up out of shape and win. I work very, very hard, and I'm in better shape than people think I am.''

Williams said she was amused by TV coverage of her run at the Australian Open. She came in at No. 84, having played only four tournaments last year and dropped to No. 140, but she quieted the critics, brushing aside four top-20 players and obliterating then-No. 1 Maria Sharapova in the final 6-1, 6-2.


Williams was so determined to win in Australia that she watched and dissected every match involving men's finalists Roger Federer and Fernando Gonzalez.

''I enjoyed how Fernando was playing, so aggressive with so few errors, and of course, I loved what Federer was doing, so I tried to pick up some pointers,'' she said. ``Can't say what they are, because my opponents might be reading this story.''

Williams has climbed to No. 18 heading into the Sony Ericsson Open, and firmly believes she will continue to rise in the rankings and strike fear into her opponents.

''Nobody thought I was in shape, and that worked in my favor,'' she said. 'I was watching an early match of mine on replay and the commentator was saying, `If this goes to three sets, Serena will be in trouble,' and I was actually feeling fine. I had trained hard, practiced a lot, and I knew I was ready, even though everyone underestimated me. But I don't care what the media or anyone else thinks.''

She said she no longer gets upset when people make remarks about her physique.

''I always wanted to look like Venus growing up, that tall, thin body that looks so good in all the clothes,'' Williams said. ``Sometimes I felt like I hated her because I wanted my body to look like hers, and I knew it couldn't because I'm built different. I have a big butt and big chest. As females, a lot of us go through that, to the point where people get eating disorders, but we have to learn to love who we are. Other people would tell me they love my body, but I didn't love it. I finally realized not everybody's Mary-Kate [Olsen], and I've been happier with myself.''

Williams is eager to keep her comeback going with a victory at the Crandon Park Tennis Center, where she has won three titles but hasn't played since 2005. If she doesn't win, then she will be rooting for Venus, who also is surging back up the rankings after an injury-filled 2006. Venus, now No. 39 in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings, is coming off a title at Memphis. The sisters are in the same quarter of the draw.

''We're trying to bring the title back home,'' Williams said. ``Venus and I have both had a lot of success there, and we're going in with a lot of potential. We're back, and we can't be counted out.''

And tennis certainly is more interesting when the Williams sisters are around.

''When Venus and Serena were around and playing each other in the finals, people complained it was boring, but the sport needs them right now,'' TV analyst Mary Carillo said. ``It was astonishing what Serena did in Australia. It was such a one-woman show. I don't know that I've ever seen such a dominating performance in a final. The ferocity in Serena's eyes, you just knew nobody was beating her that day. If she played like that all the time, she'd be Roger Federer.''


Said coach Nick Bolletieri, who has worked with Williams in the past year: ``Serena might have been a little out of shape, but she's a fighter, and that can make up for a lot of deficiencies. She played with a vengeance, with an inner spirit that was a joy to watch. I remember when Richard Williams first introduced me to his daughters. They were 9 and 10. He told me they would rewrite the books.''

And they still might.

''The hallmark of a champion is high quality consistently, fill the pail year after year,'' Carillo said. ``If Serena and Venus decided that's what they want to do, they will put marks on this sport. It's up to them.''
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post #14 of 42 (permalink) Old Mar 21st, 2007, 02:05 PM
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Re: Serena Article:She figures big

Very positive article. Nice to see they´re finally acknowledging the fact that Serena´s built is normal and that she is not fat.
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post #15 of 42 (permalink) Old Mar 21st, 2007, 02:08 PM
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Re: Serena Article:She figures big

Originally Posted by vettipooh View Post
Great positive and insightful article! You go, Rena, with your PHAT (Plenty Hips And Thighs) self.
Should have said Plenty Hips Ass & Thighs

I've learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.

I've learned that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.

I've learned that either you control your attitude or it controls you.

I've learned that sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.

I've learned that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them, and less to do with how many years you have lived.

I've learned that you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life forever.
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