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Serena Williams: "I want to hear 'Go, Serena!'"

Mélanie PONTET
Tuesday, 10 February 2009 at 18:29
The 17th Open GDF SUEZ is lucky to host the new World Number 1 who is already a two-time winner here at Coubertin. And Serena Williams, who now lives in Paris, hopes to receive support from French fans.  

Serena, you're not playing very many tournaments right now. Why did you decide to participate in the Open GDF SUEZ?
I'm here because I love playing in Paris and since I've already won here at Coubertin, it obviously means a lot to me. I love the atmosphere here, including the fans and the court, so it's a true pleasure to be here.

You won your first title at the Open GDF SUEZ in 1999. Do you have a fond memory of this victory?
I was so happy to have won here. I remember my mother was here, too. I was thinking back on it today and I realized that what stood out the most was that I played five matches here, four of which were against French women. My luck! And each time, the fans were yelling “Go Amélie! Go Nathalie! Go Sandrine! Go Julie!” I'll never forget it!

But now that you're living in Paris, shouldn't the audience be saying “Go, Serena!” this year?
Oh, yes, you're right! So I hope to hear “Go, Serena!” In any case I remember the audience as being quite exceptional and I hope they'll support me.

In Melbourne, you curtly beat the former world number one. Do you think that there is a big gap between you and the others?
All I know is that there's not much difference in terms of points! (Laughter) so I should stay well-focused. My goal now is to stay at the top of the ranking. And to win here. I really want to have a good time this week.

By the way, this is the third time that you're World Number 1. Does that mean something special to you?
I'm much more confident than I was in September. Back then, I only wanted to win the US Open and went through so many low moments that it was more of a bonus. This season, I'm working a lot harder to make it, so I feel like I have earned it.

Jelena Jankovic said last week that it was going to be hard for a female player to win the Grand Slam. What do you think?
Jelena is right, it will be tough, but nothing is impossible. As a matter of fact, I‘ve had all four! We'll see... For now, my goal is to win the French Open and all the tournaments I play. Starting with this one!

In any case, you announced that you absolutely wanted to win the French Open this year Why is it a priority?
It is such a wonderful tournament and I really want to do better than last year (Ed. eliminated in the third round last year.) I was very let down and mad at myself. That's why I'm making the French Open a priority this year. If I win, it will erase my defeat from last year.

Together, you and Venus won the last three Grand Slams, do you two have a monopoly on the tour?
In fact, we try to do the Grand Slams together; it's sort of a family thing!

What inspired you to buy an apartment in Paris?
I love this city. It may seem strange, but I actually enjoy the cool weather here, probably because I'm from Florida! (Laughter). Each morning, I wake up and have croissants for breakfast. I love it.

Did the fact that Paris is considered a fashion capital help influence your choice?
It sure did! As far as fashion goes, it's the best city in the world! Here, I can find the most beautiful couture shows I've ever seen! But that's not all... I love the streets, and the city itself! It's full of imagination and is like a second home to me!

Besides eating croissants, and enjoying fashion, what else do you like to do in Paris?
I spend a lot of time in my apartment and I like just hanging out in my neighbourhood... There is a little market where I like to buy fresh produce. I also enjoy visiting American bookshops and reading French literature, but in English.

Translated by Amy Davenport

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