LONDON — Top-ranked Serena Williams hasn’t won a Grand Slam since Wimbledon a year ago, but the 21-time major champion appeared confident about her chances of retaining the title on the eve of the tournament.
“Honestly, I don’t feel any pressure,” said Williams, keeping her answers short at a news conference Sunday. “I feel good and confident.”
Williams surprised many by failing to win any of the last three Grand Slam tournaments.
She fell to Roberta Vinci of Italy in the 2015 U.S. Open semifinals, Angelique Kerber of Germany in the Australian Open final in January, and Garbine Muguruza of Spain in the French Open final earlier this month.
Instead of bemoaning those losses, however, Williams prefers to focus on coming back stronger.
“I think it’s important to learn from every loss that you have,” she said. “I think, in particular, throughout my whole career (I) have been able to learn a lot to come back a much better player.”
Williams enters Wimbledon at the top of the world rankings for the 300th week of her career. Only Steffi Graf (377 weeks) and Martina Navratilova (332) have held the No. 1 ranking more often.
Nevertheless, Muguruza, Kerber, Agnieszka Radwanska and Simona Halep are have a chance to oust Williams from the top spot by the end of Wimbledon.
Williams will play 148th-ranked qualifier Amra Sadikovic of Switzerland, a player she admits knowing nothing about, in the first round on Tuesday.
“It doesn’t matter who I play,” she said. “It doesn’t matter to me.”
When she captured her sixth Wimbledon trophy last year, it was the second time in her career she held all four Grand Slam titles. She first achieved that distinction in 2002-03.
“It was a great accomplishment to win four Grand Slams in a row twice in my career,” Williams said. “It’s pretty cool. It’s really awesome.”
Like Williams, two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic arrived at Wimbledon without having played a grass court tune-up tournament.
Where the two don’t agree is in their attitude: Williams insists she feels no pressure to perform this fortnight, while Djokovic believes it’s impossible to escape those expectations.
“It’s always present. Pressure is part of what we do,” he said. “It’s inevitable to face this kind of sensation as a top player, being expected to do well and to go as far as last four at least in the tournament, or finals.”
Djokovic starts his campaign for a fourth Wimbledon trophy by taking on British wild-card entrant James Ward in a first meeting between the two.
As tradition dictates, Djokovic, as the men’s defending champion, will open the Centre Court competition.
“It’s going to be the first match on the untouched grass,” Djokovic said. “That’s probably one of the most special tennis matches that you get to experience as a professional tennis player.”
Djokovic understands the emotions behind simultaneously holding all four Grand Slam titles, which he achieved by winning his first career French Open title earlier this month.
Last year, Williams had a chance to win a calendar Grand Slam, but came up short at the U.S. Open.
This year, Djokovic remains in contention to be the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to achieve a calendar Grand Slam, having already won the Australian and French Opens.
Williams, for one, says Djokovic could be the player to get the deed done.
“He has every opportunity to do it,” she said. “I think he’ll get it easy. So he should be fine.”
That said, Williams is most interested in matches finally getting under way at this year’s edition of the tournament.
“I’m definitely ready to start playing at this point,” Williams said. “I’m kind of over practicing every day for two hours, then going to the gym for some time.”
Source by pressherald…