Sisterly talk occupies Serena
Tuesday, 1 July 2008
Written by Kate Battersby
Serena cools off
©EPA / V. Donev
Seventeen to one. That was the ratio of press conference questions put to Serena Williams on the subject of (a) her sister Venus, whom she will face in the final if both win their semis as opposed to (b) Zheng Jie, whom Serena will definitely play in the semi-finals.
Over and over again, Serena repeated that her job is to stay focused on her next opponent. But it does seem that a lot of people are certain 2008 will provide the first all-Williams final here since 2003, and that's all they want to talk about.
"I surely hope that one way or another the name Williams will be on the trophy this year," agreed Serena. "I've got to say that I believe so. I'm just fighting to win my next match.
"I've been watching her [Zheng Jie] play. She's doing a fabulous job and I don't think it's luck, her doing so well. I think she's a really good player. I'm definitely not going to underestimate her. I'll try to fight, do the best I can."
And that was about it on the subject of the Chinese opponent – and maybe Serena feels the same as those already planning for an all-Williams final. She let slip that she had made a point of watching some of her sister's quarter-final win over Tamarine Tanasugarn today in order to "check out the competition".
"You scout your opponent, and she's an opponent," explained Serena. "When I play her I sometimes have some sense of knowing what her next move is but it's because I've practised against her so much. I know her game and I know what's going on.
"I feel like I deserve this because I don't think anyone has been working harder than me, except for maybe Venus. That girl works even harder than I do. But I feel like it's about time."
That 2003 final saw Serena emerge victorious. It was her sixth Slam title, since when she has taken two more. That five-year gap since her last Wimbledon win is beginning to feel like a long time to the 26-year-old.
"Time flies," she acknowledged. "I feel like 2001 [when Venus won her second title] was just two years ago, but it wasn't. I always expect the best. My target is obviously to be the best in my sport."
Invited to agree with the bookmakers that Venus is now favourite to hold on to her title here, Serena showed her competitive streak.
"I would never sit here and say she's the favourite while I'm still the draw," she said indignantly. "What are you on? That's not me. Even when I'm not the favourite, I'm always going to believe that I am. I always believe I can win."
No wonder, then, that she agreed she shows her competitive streak more readily than her older sister.
"I'm definitely more expressive about it," she said. "Venus is more low-key, whereas I'm more out there."
So what will it be like in the flat they are sharing throughout the tournament, if come Saturday it is, as they hope, another all-Williams final?
"I'm going to sabotage her," promised Serena with a smile. "I'm going to eat all the cereal so she doesn't have a chance." Then, perhaps remembering her pledge that she is focused only on her next match, she added: "If we get that far."