By Richard Pagliaro
- Hungry for victory, Serena Williams has removed most meat from her diet in an effort to reduce the food poisoning problems that have plagued her in the past.
A 7-6 (7-2), 6-1 victor over former French Open champion Iva Majoli in the second round of the Rogers AT&T Cup in Toronto yesterday, the fourth-seeded Williams meets Austrian Barbara Schett today as she tries to avenge Schett's upset of older sister Venus in the first round of the French Open in May.
The 19-year-old Williams, who complained of food poisoning following her quarterfinal loss to Jennifer Capriati at Wimbledon, said she has reduced her meat intake to prevent future food-poisoning problems and now mimics the menu selections of older sister Venus.
"I never was a big meat eater. But I don't eat meat," Williams said. "I just eat a bit of chicken and fish. I don't eat pork. That was a little hard for me, because traditionally, we like bacon. So that was hard to give up. I eat whatever Venus eats, because Venus never has this problem. So when she's around, I order the same thing she does. So if we've got to get it, at least we'll go down together."
The new diet has helped the muscular Serena drop a couple of dress sizes, but she admits the food in Toronto is an appetizing attraction.
"I don't even like to eat too much any more," Williams said. "I really cut back on my eating. I'm now a size 6. I'm really proud of that. But they have great food here. This is the best, for the tournament, it's the best. They have a wonderful salad and it's really wonderful. I love coming here for that."
Her newly-refined shape has helped Serena enjoy the benefits of her budding designing career as she can find comfort in the designer clothes she favors.
"I've never really been overweight, never," Williams said. "But, I mean, I have so many muscles so it's hard for me to sometimes fit the designer clothes. So now I'm able to fit everything that I want to. I guess I feel more fit, more fast. Definitely feel better. You're always feeling better the lighter you are. You just feel happier, just not as heavy."
Though she is still seeking her first title of the season, the 2000 tournament runner-up believes the added athleticism she and her sister supply have helped the women's game grow.
"Us ladies players have definitely picked up our game," Williams said. "And a lot of people are getting more athletic. That's the only difference between the women's and the men is they're more athletic. But we're definitely getting more athletic and we're making things happen. What's most important is we're making people watch. Actually, we're all entertainers. Whether we're sports heroes or music stars, we're all entertainers. And it boils down to, you know, if people are going to watch you."