If Serena Williams wanted to give the impression that returning to peak playing form was her top priority on the eve of Wimbledon, she failed to do that in a conference call with reporters yesterday.
Speaking from England, where the tournament begins Monday, the two-time Wimbledon champion was blithe about her preparations for the Grand Slam event, which she won in 2002 and 2003, suggesting she was capable of winning her third title by virtue of talent alone.
Williams has played infrequently the last two years. In the 13 tournaments she has entered in this year, her record is 15-4. In May she was bounced in the first round of the Italian Open. She later pulled out of the French Open, citing an ankle injury. And unlike most of the world's top players, she didn't compete in the traditional grass-court tune-ups to hone her game for Wimbledon. Instead she and elder sister Venus were filming a reality series based on their lives as superstar athletes and personalities that will start airing on ABC Family on Thursday.
"I feel good," said Williams, 23, asked to assess her fitness and match-toughness. "I keep telling myself that I've been playing since I was 4 years old. If I'm not ready now, I'll never be. That's how I try to look at it."
Williams is seeded fourth at Wimbledon, behind world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport; Maria Sharapova, who defeated her in last year's Wimbledon final; and Amelie Mauresmo of France.
Asked who she felt her biggest rival would be at Wimbledon, Williams said: "Whoever is against the net on me in the final."
But she declined to name specific players, explaining: "I don't even know what side [of the draw] I'm on."
Asked why she thought she could win Wimbledon despite her limited preparations, Williams said: "Well, I definitely have the game for it. I have the talent. If you have the game and you have the talent -- I believe in me. I know a lot of people out there believe in me, as well. I feel like I'm destined almost to keep going and keep winning."
-- Liz Clarke