February 16, 2009

Serena seeks 1st Dubai title

By Rohan Alvares, Sports Reporter for XPress

A winner of all four grand slams, the thrill of the world number one ranking which she presently holds and her Australian Open win last month made her the all-time career prize money leader among any female athlete. Is there really any territory left for Serena Williams to conquer? “I’ve never won [the Dubai] tournament so that would be nice,” she said with her trademark grin. In the kind of form she has been, only a recurrence of the knee injury she suffered at the Paris Indoors event could prevent her from lifting the women’s crown at the 2009 Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships this weekend.

But Williams, speaking on the eve of her opening match against Italian Sara Errani, assured all she will be fit and raring to go when she walks out onto centre court at the Avaition Club on Tuesday. “It’s better. I didn’t practice much yesterday but it’s better today,” she said. The highest prize money earner she well may be, but Williams is as aware as anybody about the world’s bleak economic situation. Which is why she is keen to avoid the repercussions of pulling out of tournaments these days. “I’m not into paying the 100 thousand dollar fines, especially in these economic times,” she said. If all goes according to plan, Williams could set up a mouth-watering weekend semifinal clash with elder sister Venus. “Every time we play we play in the same half [of the draw],” said Williams adding, “She is my biggest competition and the only player who pushes me to new levels. And I think our level of matchplay is now really high. Our games have gotten closer and we are now neck and neck.”

And what’s it like returning to the summit of the women’s rankings? “It’s cool to be number one. It’s important but at the same time for me I don’t worry about it too much. I just take things as they go everyday. If I’m number one great, if not I just try to keep winning tournaments. “I take every match very seriously. It doesn’t matter whom I’m playing. I feel when people play against me they bring their best game. So I have to be serious as everyone’s my rival,” she said.

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