Serena Williams had a little fun with her second Vogue cover — in the most Serena Williams way possible.
Hours after she was forced to withdraw from the Indian Wells tournament because of a knee injury, she offered an Instagram photo in which she is lounging in the sun, bikini-clad, while reading the mag with her mug on it. “Queen Serena,” the cover beatifically proclaims, adding “The Tennis Ace on Fitness, Friendship and Forgiveness.” Ironically enough, another headline on the cover is “Working it.”
Williams, who was returning to Indian Wells after a prolonged absence dating back to an incident when she and her sister were young, promised to return to the tournament after withdrawing before her semifinal.
“[Four] months ago I began a journey to play Indian Wells and it was amazing,” she wrote on Instagram after pulling out of the tournament. “I never dreamed I could do it. But I would not have been able to do this without my fans. Though it ended early due to injury this year, I have to say I cannot wait to try again next year. Thanks everyone. I love you so much.”
Williams shared the cover the last time, appearing with Ryan Lochte and Hope Solo in a pre-Olympics spread in 2012.
The “friendship” part of the story, of course, pertains to BFF Caroline Wozniacki, with whom she bonded a year ago after Rory McIlroy ended their engagement. The story touches on their tennis rivalry, Jesus Christ and “boobs.” Rebecca Johnson writes in the story accompanying the Annie Liebovitz photos:
“It’s hard and lonely at the top,” Williams observes. “That’s why it’s so fun to have Caroline and my sister, too. You’re a target when you’re number one. Everyone wants to beat you. Everyone talks behind your back, and you get a lot more criticism. God forbid I lose. It’s like ‘Why?’ Well, I am human.”“The worst was when they said, ‘Caroline was beaten by a player ranked below her,’ ” Wozniacki says. “Hello—when you’re number one, everyone is ranked below you.
“There are always people who aren’t going to like you,” Williams says. “Look at Jesus; there are people who didn’t like him.”
“Wait, are you comparing yourself to Jesus?” Caroline asks. It is, I’ve noticed, her role to elbow Serena in the ribs whenever she says anything too far out.
“Oh, God, no, I am far from it. As everyone knows. But as a Christian, I do try to be Christlike.”
She got an opportunity to be supremely forgiving of Wozniacki in 2012 when Caroline blatantly stuffed her bra and skirt in an imitation of Serena’s physique during an exhibition match in Brazil. It was meant as a joke. “I never would’ve done it if Serena and I weren’t friends,” Wozniacki says. “And hey, who wouldn’t want big boobs?”
“Me,” Serena puts her hand up. “Hello? Me!”