A Seat in the Bleachers: Keeping it fresh with Serena

Serena Williams’ latest hairstyle is a gorgeous tangle of curls twisting away in every direction.

Serena Williams’ latest hairstyle is a gorgeous tangle of curls twisting away in every direction.

Every once in awhile at a press conference at the Hilton Garden Inn on Wednesday, she shook her hand through her locks to keep it all together.

The formula for achieving the No. 1 ranking in the world of tennis isn’t supposed to be cluttered with x’s, y’s and z’s, but Williams has never been one to shy away from the entanglements of a

diverse lifestyle.

For Williams and her sister, Venus,

the tunnel vision necessary to get to the top has been refracted to dozens of new places by the prism of their ambition and imagination.

Serena flipped her name backwards to create a tag for the clothing line she designs, Aneres; she has a burgeoning acting career that includes guest appearances on “ER” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and voiceovers on “The Simpsons” and Nickelodeon programs; and she’s often the subject of photo spreads, many of which are, ahem, daring, to say the least.

It used to be that the Williams sisters were portrayed as unwitting foils for the desire of their father, Richard, to make them the greatest tennis players on the planet, auto­matons who were forced to hit balls endlessly in the Florida sun.

It fit the formula, anyway.

To view Serena in one dimension is grossly unfair and inac­curate, though, and, sure enough, it wasn’t long before the many other facets of her personality and talents began to reveal themselves in the sometimes harsh light of fame.

So then it was time to bash her for having too many outside interests, that she didn’t have the

100 percent commitment and ded­ication you need to be No. 1.

To her critics, pick a lane, any lane.

Last year at a tournament in Tasmania just before the Aus­tralian Open, Williams said “There’s no doubt about it. It’s just a matter of time,” before she would get back to the top, for which she was widely ripped.

In a column written by 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash for the London “Times Online” titled “Williams is a Lost Cause,” Cash sneered at Serena’s hubris, and claimed that she didn’t appear “to have the fortitude to stick at what she is trying to do.”

Williams won the Australian Open shortly thereafter.

After listening to her speak and watching her play in a World TeamTennis match on Wednesday, I’m inclined to believe that Williams, currently No. 5, will be No. 1 again, especially now that she’s as healthy and fit as she can be.

“I have to tell you, I feel like I’m a kid in a candy store. I feel like I just started, and I want to be at every tournament and I want to compete everywhere,” she said. “I have goals that I want to reach, and it feels good, and I like that.”

She used the word “redundancy” to describe how the repetitive grind of the tour can wear you out, but Williams has a built-in system to combat that, with all her outside interests.

“I get a lot of bad press about it, but at the end of the day, I think that it was good that I did have something else to do and also to fall back on if it doesn’t work out in tennis,” she said. “Fortunately enough, it did work out, but it’s important to have other things to do. That way, you’re not just always on one path, so narrow, so straight, that it’s very difficult like that.

“There’s different strokes for different folks. Not everyone can do the same thing. If everyone did the same thing, the world would be a boring place.”

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