Serena Williams to ‘take a deep breath’ after exhausting past few years

Serena Williams, of the United States, is seen during her game against Yaroslava Shvedova, of Kazakhstan, during the Sony Open tennis tournament, Thursday, March 20, 2014, in Key Biscayne, Fla. Williams won 7-6 (7), 6-2.
Serena Williams, of the United States, is seen during her game against Yaroslava Shvedova, of Kazakhstan, during the Sony Open tennis tournament, Thursday, March 20, 2014, in Key Biscayne, Fla. Williams won 7-6 (7), 6-2.
Luis M. Alvarez / AP

Serena Williams says she is exhausted and needs a break.

Three days after winning her record seventh title at the Sony Open on Key Biscayne, the top-ranked Williams suffered a shocking defeat on the clay courts of Charleston, S.C., losing to No. 78 Jana Cepelova of Slovakia in her opening match at the Family Circle Cup.

Williams gave Cepelova credit for being “a great counterpuncher” but put much of the blame for the loss on her own fatigue. She went down 0-5 in the first 18 minutes and said she was tired from two years of tournaments and training.

“I’m really just dead,” Williams said. “I need some weeks off where I don’t think about tennis and kind of regroup. I’ve had a long couple of years, and I’m really a little fatigued.

“I just think I’ve been training really hard and putting so much effort into every day for a couple of years now. I think sometimes taking a break is just as important as training, and I haven’t been really doing that so much.”

Earlier in her career, Williams was known to take breaks between tournaments, but she has been playing a busier schedule over the past two years and won 12 titles over the past 12 months.

“I need some time off, so I’m going to kind of take a deep breath,” she said. “I haven’t had time, even in the offseason. I went straight to training, and there’s just been so much in several years. So I just need to take a deep breath and regroup, and I think actually it’ll really help me for the rest of the clay-court season.”

Her next tournament will be the Madrid Open in May.

• The Davis Cup quarterfinals are this weekend. Switzerland is a heavy favorite over Kazakhstan, with Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka and a resurgent Roger Federer on the team.

“We all know that we have a good opportunity, especially since Roger is playing and I am playing,” Wawrinka said Tuesday.

The matches begin Friday in Geneva on an indoor hard court, with Wawrinka ranked No. 3 in the world and Federer up to No. 4. Kazakhstan’s best-ranked player is No. 56 Mikhail Kukushkin.

The winner faces Britain or Italy in September.

Switzerland last reached a Davis Cup semifinal 11 years ago.

“For sure, it’s going to be amazing [to play at home], especially after my beginning of the year,” Wawrinka said. “First [Davis Cup] quarterfinal for me, playing in Geneva in front of 16,000. I’m excited for that.”

Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who withdrew from the Sony Open semifinals with a groin injury, announced he will sit out the Davis Cup tie against the Czech Republic this weekend. And Richard Gasquet will not play for France against Germany because of a back injury.

• ESPN and Wimbledon are co-hosting a contest in which American fans have an opportunity to design the official tournament poster for 2014. The winner gets an all-expenses-paid trip to Wimbledon and Centre Court seats.

There were several hundred entries, and they have been narrowed down to the top 10. Two of the finalists are from Florida — Emily Schilb, an architect from Port St. Lucie, and Carlos Rivera of Miramar. Their entries can be seen and voted on by the public at and

Online voting ends Sunday. A panel of Chris Evert, John McEnroe and All England Club director Philip Brook will pick the winner, taking the public vote into consideration. The winner will be announced April 29.

Read more Tennis stories from the Miami Herald

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