Twenty-three-time Grand Slam singles champion and the greatest tennis player of all-time Serena Williams is back and playing the Wimbledon Championships. Williams, a seven-time singles champion at the All England Club, was a wild card entry by the tournament directors. She was asked by a reporter on the eve of the Championships on Sunday, how she felt about a “favorable” draw when she could’ve drawn world No. 1 Iga Swiatek. The GOAT gave a champion’s response, but Twitter was not feeling the reporter’s line of questioning.
“Every match is hard. Every match,” Williams said. “You can’t underestimate anyone or any match any day. Anyone could have been drawn to me.”
Williams’ legion of fans and others took to Twitter to offer their opinions on the exchange.
I love how much she hates press conferences lol. queen of iconic clapbacks
— Louis Staples (@LouisStaples) June 25, 2022
The PR Queen
— SELF DRIVEN!! (@LADIESndJENC) June 26, 2022
Like Djokovic,..many deride the degrees of hubris projected but the heart of a Champion is filled with belief,& self confidence.
— Jomo Vs. Jamocha Almond Fudge♊️🏁 (@JGemini) June 25, 2022
I remember a several years back when she lost the #1 ranking after her foot injury, she beat the brakes off that girl. You don’t become the GOAT without self confidence. 🎾🎾🎾 🎾
— Lynne Marie (@LynneMarie15) June 25, 2022
The reporter’s question wasn’t out of bounds. Williams could have draw Swiatek in round one, so playing the 113th-ranked 24-year-old Harmony Tan in round one is a “better” draw. Perhaps the reporter could’ve phrased the question differently or asked about the difference between playing a relative unknown player versus a two-time major champ.
Either way the reporter likely would’ve gotten the “anyone could have been drawn to me” response. Great champions like to remind us in subtle and not so subtle ways of their greatness.
Playing Swiatek would have been a tough way to start her first major in a year, but she is right that every match is tough. Particularly at this stage of her career. Most of her opponents are half her age and have been playing all season.
Prior to playing doubles at the Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Eastbourne last week, Williams hadn’t played a competitive match since last year’s first round at the All England Club. It was during that match she suffered a torn hamstring after slipping on Centre Court and she missed the rest of the season and the first half of 2022.
At 40 years of age, Williams is on the last run of her brilliant career. Who knows how many more times fans will have the chance to see her in all-whites at the All England Club.
Two-time US Open champion and tennis analyst Tracy Austin believes Williams deserves the right to play on her terms whenever she wants.
“I think the draw of playing at least one more Wimbledon is really what encouraged her to come back and play,” Austin said. “Is it a little too late? (She has played) just two doubles matches before coming into Wimbledon. She has a decent draw, we talked about that yesterday. She has the right to play whenever, wherever, and how often she wants to play. We’re just happy she’s back.”
Williams has always played coy or simply dodged questions about retirement. She’s not going to give anyone the satisfaction of breaking what would be a major story. She is going to leave the sport the same way she entered and dominated it over her career, on her own terms.
All sports and tennis fans can do is enjoy her for as long as she’s here.