Williams will be chasing her 24th Grand Slam title and will not be following in the footsteps of defending men’s champion Rafael Nadal and Women’s no.1 Ashleigh Barty by sitting out in the US Open.
Williams spoke to sky sports ahead of her appearance at the Lexington Open in Kentucky next week, and she announced that she would play in the tournament before traveling to Europe to play in the French Open the following week.
What did she have to say
“I see myself doing it; all of it happens. But I’m not planning for the future, as tournaments got canceled. I was just like, ‘let me just work on today and see what happens”. The 38-year-old believes she has been practicing social distancing and adhering to protocols for a long time now, and even though returning seems risky, she is still cautious.
“I have been a little bit of a recluse. I started social distancing in early March, and I don’t have the full lung capacity, so I’m not sure I would be ok, but I don’t want to find out”.
Williams suffered health complications during her labor, and she still seems to be a little affected. “I have like 50 masks that I travel with, and I don’t ever want to be without one. With health concerns, I am super careful with what I have been doing, and everyone in the Serena Bubble is protected. It’s cool to play Tennis, but this is how I have to be right now,” she added.
She is also known to have built her tennis ball court and gym while in lockdown. “Tennis is naturally a social distancing sport, and it was easy for me to walk on my side of the court and my hitter to walk on the other side of the court. Florida was an awful place to be, so we were extreme with our social distancing. It was a completely different experience, but that is the only real learning curve.”
“I had to make a gym, and my husband made a court for me. I guess that is different! We built a tennis court and a gym. It’s super cool”. Williams said the gym isn’t yet done but sees the new development to be her sanctuary and wonders why she hadn’t done that 20 years ago. She also said she has been trying her best to invite people to come to the court to play.
“It was nice, and it is cool because it got me out of the house, I drove there, so I had a little separation, it has not been all physical, physical. The gym is fun. I’m still working on equipment, slow and steady. This is the new normal, and I don’t know when I will go to the gym again, I don’t want to risk it for my health”.
More players continue to withdraw from the tournament
The latest redraws were 25-year-old Ukrainian player Elina Mykhailivna and 28-year-old Dutch player Kiki Bertens. Both ladies have refused to travel to New York to play the hard-court Grand Slam as well as the Western and Southern Open because of the coronavirus pandemic. Bertens said she understands and respects all the efforts that have been put in place, but she still doesn’t feel safe and comfortable enough. She assumes that traveling to the US will put her and her team at significant risk.
“Of course, we respect this as a team, and this would disturb our preparation for my beloved clay-court tournaments in Rome and Paris,” Bertens said. Nonetheless, she is aware that COVID-19 is still in prevalence, and the health of everyone is also still a priority.
It is in the concern of players like Bertens and Andy Murray over the mandatory quarantine they might face after returning from Europe even though the US Open organizers say they are trying to provide a bio-data of the bubble in New York for the players.
“Our prime minister indicated yesterday that we should be quarantined for 14 days after coming back from the States,” Bertens said.”Of course, we respect this as a team, and this would disturb our preparation for my beloved clay-court tournaments in Rome and Paris.”
Murray, on the other hand, is worried about this but will take the risk to play.