January 10, 2009

Diamonds are Serena's best friend...

IT will be the kind of entrance fit for the red carpet in Hollywood rather than a blue plexicushion tennis court when Serena Williams takes on Samantha Stosur today at Sydney's Medibank International. Williams will be dripping with diamonds, draped in a new $3.5million necklace, when she starts her Australian campaign on centre court. The 27-year-old American made friends with Sydney diamond designer Nic Cerrone in a visit to his boutique store in Leichhardt yesterday.

When the Italian asked if she liked diamonds, Williams gushed "they're my best friends''. Cerrone has loaned Williams a necklace sparkling with 427 diamonds. When told of it's $3.5million value, Williams raised an eyebrow - "American or Australian dollars?'' The necklace is worth as much as Stosur has earned in her career. It is worth almost six times the $638,298 prize pool the women's field will be fighting for.

"I know she is going to come out and play aggressively,'' Stosur said. "I've just got to try to go with her, stay positive and give it my best shot.'' Williams adds a touch of bling to the Medibank International as players look to find their feet for next week's Australian Open. The flamboyant American has worn diamonds on court before, causing some controversy at the 2004 US Open when one of her $40,000 earrings fell off during the match.

Cerrone's diamond designs have decorated some of the world's biggest stars, such as Janet Jackson, Claudia Schiffer and Jennifer Lopez. Even Cerrone's pet, an Italian greyhound named Charlie, walks around in a diamond-encrusted collar. "She's very unique, she can have fun,'' Cerrone said of Williams. "She has the personality to pull it off.'' Williams tried on a diamond bracelet with 1500 stones and cheekily swung her arm in a tennis service action.

While she won't play in the necklace, it could be the most outrageous thing Williams has worn onto court since she won the 2002 US Open in her figure-hugging cat suit. Diamonds were a temporary distraction yesterday, Williams only making the visit after a tough hit-out on the practice court at Homebush.

Williams said she had come to Australia to add to her NINE Grand Slam titles, not her jewelery collection. Having withdrawn from the Hopman Cup to focus on recovering from a hamstring strain, Williams said the Sydney tournament was vital to her Australian Open plans.

- Article by By Chris Wilson / The Daily Telegraph
- Images courtesy of the Official Medibank International website

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