“Apparently, U can’t take pictures of golfers,” she posted on Twitter. “In my defense, peeps always take pics of tennis players.”
But Williams isn’t letting anything get in the way of her tennis.
“I enjoy it more and more the older I get,” Williams said. “I feel like I’m a kid still learning, like I can still get better.
“Losing motivates me. Sometimes, I hate to say this, but it’s good for me to lose because I can’t tell you how much that motivates me. All I can think of is that loss. It keeps me human.’’
That certainly was the case when she lost in the first round of the 2012 French Open to 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano, one of the most stunning upsets in recent memory. Williams took the loss hard, and sought extra coaching from Patrick Mouratoglou, who runs an academy outside Paris. The extra work clearly paid off.
Victoria Azarenka is one of the few players who doesn’t seem intimated by Williams, despite losing to her 11 of the 13 times they have played.
Azarenka first beat Williams 6-3, 6-1 in the 2009 Sony Ericsson Open final in Key Biscayne. It was clear from that match that the young Azarenka had the groundstrokes and guts to challenge Williams.
She beat Williams most recently 7-6, 2-6, 6-3 in the final in Doha, Qatar, on Feb. 17. During the trophy ceremony, they chatted about Oscars parties and shared a few laughs. Both players insist they are friendly rivals.
“I’ve always thought Victoria’s a good player, and she puts it all out there, like I do,” Williams said. “It’s one of the good rivalries because we don’t hate each other. We have respect for each other and enjoy the battle.”
Said Azarenka: “Any tournament I’m happy to play against Serena. I feel like we’re pushing each other to go to the limit every time, to step up, to improve, and that’s tremendous motivation to have.”
Azarenka pulled out of the tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., last week with an ankle injury, and she hoped to be recovered enough to play at the Sony Open.
Cordial as their rivalry might be, make no mistake. Williams has not lost her killer instinct.
Asked which players other than Azarenka pose a threat to her, Williams immediately jumped in: “I didn’t call her a threat. I wouldn’t use that word. That’s your word. There are other good players, but I wouldn’t call them threats.”
Williams is looking forward to the Sony Open, one of her favorite tournaments every year. She will be going for a sixth title. She won in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2008.
“It’s home for me,” Williams, a Palm Beach Gardens resident, said of the Key Biscayne event. “All my friends come, and I want them to be able to stick around, so I have to keep winning.”
As long as she’s winning and enjoying the competition, don’t expect to see Williams abandon tennis for acting or the fashion industry — two of her side interests.
“I think maybe she saw it’s not that easy to be a Hollywood star,” McEnroe said. “A lot of people find that out. Just because you’re famous at one thing doesn’t mean you’ll be famous at something else. Serena has a great platform with tennis that can set her up for the rest of her life, so she might as well milk it for as long as she can.”