Serena Williams almost caught the WTA upset-bug yesterday, needing three sets and two hours to get past Jie Zheng in the fourth round of the Sony Ericsson Open. With this win, Serena maintains her hold on the No. 1 ranking – but she’ll still lose the top spot to Dinara Safina if she doesn’t make it to the final this weekend. Pretty tough, considering she’s won the last two Majors and Safina lost in the third round this week.
Serena had some really interesting things to say about being the best player in the world (No. 1 ranking or not) in her post match presser yesterday. Oh, and just for the record, she thinks winning the Slam will happen for her. Read on!:
Q. Do you enjoy being in a position of being No. 1? Does that in any way help you, or do you. . .
SERENA WILLIAMS: Most of all I enjoy winning slams and the big tournaments. I obviously do enjoy being No. 1. I think it’s great. I think it’s the epitome of a great athlete. At the end of the day, I’ve been No. 1 and I’ll be No. 1. It seems like I’ll be remembered more for how many Grand Slams I’ll win. But No. 1 I think is also equally as important.
Q. You won’t be No. 1 unless you make the finals here, you know that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, I don’t put pressure on myself, so we’ll see. If I make it, I make it; if not, oh, well. It will be kind of weird to be No. 2 to — because I think the girl that would take over would be like — lost early here and hasn’t really, whatever. So it’s like whatever. I don’t really care.
Q. You said you wanted to be remembered for winning the slams. But in terms of holding on to the ranking, you’ve come a long way to get back to the top.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. But, I mean, at this point doesn’t matter how many Grand Slams you win, can’t be number one. Even if you get to the finals of Wimbledon and win the US Open and Australia, that’s not what the No. 1 player gets. It is what it is. It’s like, whatever. You have to like, I don’t know, win all the smaller tournaments to be No. 1.
Q. Would you prefer they change the system to make it a little bit more weighted so the Grand Slams did matter more? Those are the tournaments every player wants to win.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don’t really care one way or the other. Like I’m not — my whole goal in life isn’t to be No. 1. Yeah, I want to be No. 1, but I feel better about winning Australia or US Open or winning the French Open or anything like that. I think I feel better with that. Or winning here. Just winning titles. Obviously winning titles doesn’t make you No. 1 on this tour anymore.
Q. You’ve obviously won the last two Grand Slams. You are No. 1 now. You have gotten back in the minds of people in tennis the respect that you had years ago, and people know you’ve had to climb. What does having that respect now, being at this level, at the top of your game, how much does that mean to you?
SERENA WILLIAMS: You know what, whether I end up No. 1 at the end of this week or not, I think people obviously see me as No. 1. The respect is there. You know, I’ve been working hard for several years now and being super-consistent, and I think it’s paying off. And I think it will payoff.
Q. What about the Slam? Is that something you can think about at this point?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No. I mean, I’ve had an opportunity to win the slam I think three years. Haven’t quite done it yet. So I don’t really put too much pressure on myself anymore. If it happens, great; if not, you know, it’s going to happen. I think it’s going to happen.
(Click here for the unabridged version.)
Anyone betting against Serena right now? She’s talking some MAJOR game.
Serena will face Na Li in the quarterfinals (her third consecutive Chinese opponent of the tournament.) She’s still in line to play her sister in the semis, with Venus getting through her own three-setter yesterday against Agnieszka Radwanska. After No. 4 Elena Dementieva lost to Caroline Wozniacki, the Williams sisters are the last remaining players of the top seven in the draw.
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