After winning her opening match of the 2012 tennis season, Serena Williams told reporters she doesn't love the sport in which she excels.
"I don't love tennis today but I'm here," she said after beating Chanelle Scheepers, 6-2, 6-3, in the first round of the Brisbane International. "I can't live without it -- there's a difference between not loving something and not being able to live without it. I have never liked sports and could never understand how I became an athlete."
Serena went on to say that she doesn't like working out or training and that her 2012 schedule will be scaled back in order to provide her rest for big tournaments. The lighter slate also is intended to keep her motivated.
And therein these quotes lies the paradox that is Serena. From one view, her candor could be seen as refreshing. Here's a top athlete discussing the delicate balance of passion and obligation and fear of the unknown. She's revealing herself to the press, something she rarely has in the past.
Then you step back and realize Serena has the least self-awareness of any great athlete of the past decade. Two years later, she can't bring herself to acknowledge that she was wrong to threaten a lineswoman at the U.S. Open. She'll likely never admit her actions in last year's U.S. Open final crossed the line. Unless she gained some insight in the past four months, these quotes are selfish nonsense.
She's playing a lighter schedule in 2012? Since when has she ever played a full schedule? Even when she was a teenager, Serena never made it a secret that she focused on the big tournaments. There's nothing wrong with that. Let's not act as if this is some big sacrifice, though.
Nobody is surprised Serena doesn't like tennis. Like Andre Agassi before her, she seems to only love the winning and is willing to put up with what it takes to get there. The grind doesn't interest her much.
These aren't new insights into her soul. The underlying tone isn't that Serena is a reluctant sports hero, it's that she's able to be so much better than the rest of the tour without caring about the game like they do. Her "I don't love tennis" quote isn't a revelation, it's a self-congratulatory declaration.
It's as if she's saying, "Just imagine what I could do if I cared."
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