View Full Version : Reigning tennis queen wary of playing men-Serena not ready to try battle of the sexes

Mar 3rd, 2003, 07:17 AM
Tuesday, February 25

Serena not ready to try battle of the sexes

Associated Press

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Serena Williams isn't going to take on the best men in her sport regardless of how Annika Sorenstam does against the long-hitting stars of the PGA Tour.

"I wish I could play,'' the world's best female tennis player said Tuesday before doing a quick about-face.

"No I don't,'' she went on. "I mean, with tennis it's like Lennox Lewis against Laila Ali, but for golf maybe it's different.''

Sorenstam announced earlier this month that she will play in the Colonial in May.

The 21-year-old Williams wasn't around when Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in the "Battle of the Sexes'' on Sept. 20, 1973. But Williams is aware that Riggs was never close to the top in men's tennis.

"Like I said, Lennox Lewis against Laila Ali,'' Williams said. "She'd have no chance against Lennox Lewis, and I'd have no chance against Andre Agassi. It's just different bodies and different types. I think it would be impossible.''

Williams made her comments during a rain delay at the State Farm Women's Tennis Classic, where she won the first of her 19 singles titles last year. She completed a "Serena Slam'' in January by beating her sister, Venus, in the Australian Open final after winning the 2002 French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open crowns.

Williams set a goal after withdrawing from last year's Australian Open because of a sore ankle -- to win every Grand Slam event the rest of the way. She never expected to realize it, but wanted to set her sights high to stay focused.

She used similar reasoning to arrive at this year's goal -- to win every match after going 56-5 last season. Williams is 11-0 so far after winning in Australia and Paris.

"I expect for someone to beat me,'' she said. "I don't think it's possible, personally. But for me to reach that goal last year and win all four Grand Slams in a row is really awesome. Now I realize I can do anything. Who knows what can happen?''

With her success and fashion sense on the court has come stardom off it. Williams has become one of the most public figures in sports, complete with commercials and modeling gigs, including a recent Sports Illustrated shoot.

"It's been a goal of mine to be in that for a while," the 21-year-old said. "I wanted to do some other kind of photos, something different so people see me in a different light, as more (than) an athlete."

Now, she hopes her athleticism will open some doors to other worlds of entertainment. Williams has her sights set on acting, modeling and producing music. Forget about J-Lo, tennis has S-Will.

"I figure J-Lo does all these movies and all these videos and all this other stuff," she said. "I know I can work harder. I know I can play tennis and act and do photo shoots and model. I know I can do all that."

Williams is in her 34th week as the WTA's No. 1 -- far from the 378 weeks that Steffi Graf enjoyed during her career. It's one record Williams won't shoot for.

"I don't set long-term goals,'' she said. "It's impossible for anyone to have a long career nowadays. I mean, it's really hard. I try not to play too much. Plus, the players are tougher than they were back then, your matches are a little longer and the conditions are harder.

"I think those records that have stayed for a while eventually will be broken, but I don't know if I'm going to play 15 years to break them.''