Serena Williams is here
By Alan Harris / The Barbados Advocate
International tennis superstar, Serena Williams, has landed! And just in time for our 43rd Independence celebrations! With all the pomp and splendour, the world No. 1 women’s tennis player touched down at the Grantley Adams International Airport yesterday afternoon aboard American Airlines flight AA 1417. Serena was all smiles as she descended the stairs of the aircraft where scores of curious onlookers, travellers and airport staff gathered to get a glimpse of her. She was met on the tarmac by Minister of Sport, Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo, Sports-Tourism Manager of the Barbados Tourism Authority, Gregory Armstrong, and Tournament Director Kodi Lewis. Here in Barbados to oppose world No. 4 Caroline Wozniacki at today’s LIME ‘Tennis Pon de Rock’ Exhibition, Williams was hurriedly whisked away from the public’s eye to the comfort and seclusion of the Grace Adams Hospitality Suite. There, she then mingled with Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy and chatted with members of her large entourage, including that of sister Lyndrea Price, manager Jill Smoller and friend Kevin Davis.
Though visibly tired from her long jaunt, Serena was still in high spirits and politely told the press, “I’m excited to be here. It’s been a long time since I have been able to come to such a beautiful place and I’m looking forward to seeing it”. Quick to seize the opportunity and offer their words of welcome to the 23-time Grand Slam Champion, was Ministers Sealy and Suckoo. “ I want to say welcome to Ms. Williams and her entire entourage, it is a pleasure to have them here” a beaming Sealy said. “This of course is a significant weekend as its our independence celebrations and we are glad that you could come and be part of it. We are looking forward to the exhibition and all that is planned”. Using the occasion to highlight Barbados’ thriving sports-tourism product, Sealy added, “We are also looking forward to some of the other activities we have planned within the context of sports-tourism for this weekend. This has been a long time in coming and I think it signals just how serious this Government is about the sports-tourism fusion and how determined we are to take it to another level”.
Adding to Sealy’s sentiments, was an excited Byer-Suckoo. “ On behalf of the Ministry of Sport and the people of Barbados, we are very excited to have you here with us”, she warmly told Serena. “Everybody is excited and you have added an extra-special dimension to our weekend of celebrations. I hope that your visit to Barbados is just as memorable for you as we know it will be for all of Barbados”. Williams, probably the most dominant female tennis player of the decade, has won an incredible 23 Grand slam titles; 11 in singles, ten in women's doubles and two in mixed doubles. Along with her two Olympic gold medals, she also has won more Grand Slam titles than any other active female player and has won more career prize money than any other female athlete in history. Just earlier this month, on the 2nd of November, she regained her #1 ranking in the world for an unprecedented fifth time in her career. She is currently the reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon singles champion, and the reigning Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open Doubles Champion.
Serena will do battle with 19 year-old Wozniacki of Denmark today at the Wildey Gymnasium starting at 5 p.m., and then again tomorrow, at the exclusive Sugar Hill development. Also in action on both nights will be Barbados’ highest ranked senior in Haydn Lewis, along with former US Top 40 player Jeff Tarango. Though all the $200 court-side seats have been sold out, tickets for this historic event can still be purchased at all SuperCentre locations, Cave Shepherd, Lewis Drug Mart, the Barbados Olympic Association and FACETS jewellers.