WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen | Look back at game-by-game coverage of the Brisbane International final between Angelique Kerber and Victoria Azarenka right here on wtatennis.com!
It has been nearly 16 years since the Olympics first welcomed a still-teenaged Serena Williams, who turned 20 years old during her debut in Sydney. Fresh off her record-tying 22nd Grand Slam title, the World No.1 aims to to truly experience the Games for the first time in her storied career.
“I actually was just talking to Venus about the Olympics a few seconds ago, and how excited we are to get there,” she said at the French Open. “I was like, ‘I’ve got to do the opening ceremonies this year.’ Usually the tennis is the same day. So we’ll see. Hopefully I’ll be able to make something. It’s just going to be a really cool experience and I’m really excited about it.”
She may have missed out on some of the pomp and circumstance each Olympics provides, but Serena has nonetheless been a integral part of her sport’s presence at the Summer Games. She has taken home at least one gold medal in each of her previous three appearances – including her first in 2000, when she helped sister Venus secure a sweep of singles and doubles.
Her most recent outing was her most successful yet, winning her first gold medal in singles and pairing once more with Venus to win in doubles.
“My experience has been really amazing at the Olympics,” she said at Wimbledon. “I really loved going out there and competing, really just, you know, standing out there and being an Olympic athlete.
“It is really one of the best experiences that I’ve ever had.”
That pride is evident in an ad spot she did with Mini USA, where she reflected on her Olympic journey as part of a campaign emphasizing the importance of defying labels.
“No one can say, ‘This is what you’re supposed to do,'” she says in the video. “When you think of all the Olympic athletes, they are really doing something that is beyond everything that they should have done – having the chance to win a gold medal and compete against the best of the best across the globe.”
Her gold medals may be among her most prized possessions, but as the American aims to break Stefanie Graf’s record of total Grand Slam titles, how firm will her focus be in Rio?
“I’ve won gold. I love gold. I mean, for me, if I kept one trophy, I would probably grab my gold medals. But right now I am probably focused a little more on the Slams, or at least I was with getting to 22.
“Now I feel like, you know, everything else will be pretty good.”
A fourth trip to the Olympics would be a bonus for any athlete; it may be an even bigger bonus for the fans who’ve so rarely seen one of the greatest of all time play in their part of the world. But as Serena herself has often said, everything is a bonus for one who has achieved so much.
Don’t expect her to give up the gold so easily.
All photos cortesy of Getty Images.
CHARLESTON, SC, USA – Britain’s No.1 Johanna Konta has withdrawn from the Volvo Car Open, the tournament announced on Monday morning.
Fresh from taking home the Miami Open trophy – the biggest title of her career – the Brit was looking forward to hitting the green clay of Charleston and kicking off the clay season, but was forced to withdraw citing illness and a lingering right shoulder injury.
“I’m very sorry to have to withdraw,” Konta said in a statement. “I was battling a slight shoulder injury and sickness during Miami which has taken hold.”
Johanna Konta has withdrawn from the #VolvoCarOpen due to a right shoulder injury.
We wish Jo the best and a speedy recovery! (?: Getty) pic.twitter.com/OOu98I9sNF
— Volvo Car Open (@VolvoCarOpen) 3 de abril de 2017
Konta was the No.2 seed in Charleston, and as a result of her withdrawal the draw will be shifted as per official WTA rules.
As the withdrawal came after the release of the schedule but prior to the commencement of the first match, the following procedure applies:
– Daria Gavrilova, the highest seed without a bye, takes Konta’s vacated position
– Grace Min, a qualifier, takes the spot created by the move and will start against Sara Errani
March was packed with plenty of amazing shots – we narrowed it down to the five best.
In the end, it was Caroline Wozniacki’s sneaky lob that took top honors. Taking on Lucie Safarova in the Miami Open quarterfinals, the former World No.1 relied on her full defensive arsenal against the big-hitting Czech veteran. As Safarova approached the net, the eventual finalist pulled off an impressive lob that left her opponent frozen at net.
Click here to watch all of March’s finalists.
Final Results for March’s WTA Shot Of The Month presented by Cambridge Global Payments
1. Caroline Wozniacki (36%)
2. Kirsten Flipkens (24%)
3. Venus Williams (22%)
4. Bethanie Mattek-Sands (10%)
5. Elena Vesnina (8%)
2017 WTA Shot of the Month Winners
January: Agnieszka Radwanska
February: Angelique Kerber
How it works:
Five shots are selected by wtatennis.com
Winner is then determined by a fan vote on wtatennis.com
Doi, Jurak & Ostapenko Visit Children’s Hospital
Earlier in the week, Misaki Doi, Darija Jurak and later Jelena Ostapenko stopped by the MUSC Medical Center to visit kids in the hospital. The players hung out and played with the kids in the atrium of the children’s wing.
Atawo Hosts Special Olympics Tennis Clinic
Meanwhile, Raquel Atawo went and hit with the tennis players from the Special Olympics South Carolina. They ran through some drills and she gave them pointers on their game, and later answered all their questions at a Q&A session.
Also as a part of WTA Charities initiatives in Charleston, Ons Jabeur acted as a celebrity server at a fundraiser for special needs and disabilities and Kayla Day also paid a visit to Joint Base Charleston, a military base housing the United States and Charleston’s Navy and Air Force facilities.
Suárez Navarro Visits Monterrey Hospital
Meanwhile in Monterrey, Carla Suárez Navarro took time out of preparation for the Abierto GNP Seguros to visit the Christus Muguerza Hospital.
The Spaniard got the chance to meet and chat with the young patients there, who were in recovery from advanced scoliosis, and even signed some tennis balls for them as a keepsake.
See more photos of Suárez Navarro’s visit here!
Americans Get Artsy With Special Needs Athletes
Ashley Weinhold and Caitlin Whoriskey spent Tuesday morning with a group of athletes that are part of the Special Needs Athletes Association of Nuevo Leon.
The American players helped the athletes paste small scraps of tissue paper on a banner filling the Abierto GNP Seguros logo with bright colors, and the morning ended with everyone enjoying some tasty tacos.
Click here to see the finished product!
– All photos courtesy of Volvo Car Open and Abierto GNP Seguros
WTA Charities is the WTA’s global philanthropic organization dedicated to making a positive impact across the globe. Our mission is to be a social responsibility vehicle built on the WTA’s values to empower and provide for a better future. We’re dedicated to combining, strengthening and enhancing the community and charitable efforts of the WTA through its members (players, alumnae and tournaments), along with our partners.
Click here to see more WTA Charities activities!
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova takes on Angelique Kerber in the final of the Abierto GNP Seguros.
Volvo Car Open semifinalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni rose back into the Top 8 on the Road to Singapore leaderboard while World No.1 Angelique Kerber isn’t far behind.