Serena Williams feeling Open to success

With the French Open starting on Sunday, Williams is enjoying her tennis more than ever as she targets record books.

    Serena Williams feeling Open to success
    Williams (R) was in destructive form as she thrashed Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-3 at the Italian Open [AFP]

    Roland Garros and the French Open have not always been kind to Serena Williams, but her shock first round loss last year  ay have been one of the best things that has happened to her.

    The American crashed out to unfancied Virgine Razzano of France and she stomped off the Philippe Chatrier Centre court in a decided huff having lost for the first time in her career in the first round of a Grand Slam event.

    What followed was a run of spectacular form which saw her win Wimbledon and the US Open, to take her Grand Slam haul to 15, as well as Olympic gold in London en route to compiling a 33-1 winning record for the rest of the year.

    Now in her 31st year and one of the veterans of the WTA Tour, Williams has again been dominant this year, losing three times early on but then winning her four last tournaments going into Paris and compiling a career-best stretch of 24 wins.

    In her last tournament in Rome she dropped just 14 games in five matches, despatching world number two Maria Sharapova with disarming ease 6-1, 6-4 in the final.

    Asked whether she considered her present form to be the best of a professional career dating back to 1995, Williams replied: "I think so. I think so.

    "Just looking back at a few of my matches years ago and looking now, I definitely feel like I'm getting into that zone that I have always wanted to be in, and I feel a lot better about it."

    Practice makes perfect

    How that situation came about appears to date back to the strong emotions she felt in 2010 and 2011 when she was all but down and out after missing 11 months with a right foot injury followed by a life-threatening pulmonary embolism.

    But then the upset loss to Razzano acted as a further warning that if she still wanted to fulfill all her potential, she needed to put in the hard work in training but also learn to relax when she was out on the court.

    "I have been playing a lot more tennis. I have been spending more time on the court," she said of her strategy in recent months.

    "Now I'm definitely having a lot more fun than what I used to have on the court and really enjoying every moment of me walking out there"

    - Serena Williams

    "I felt this past year coming back I had nothing to lose and just really wanted to enjoy my career. You know, in the past when I played I was always so stressed out and always wanted to win, win, win.

    "And now I'm definitely having a lot more fun than what I used to have on the court and really enjoying every moment of me walking out there. So I think that definitely plays and makes a big difference."

    Williams also has a new motivational factor in that with 15 singles Grand Slam titles she is just three shy of legends Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, who are tied for fourth on the all-time list.

    It was a target, she admitted, she never really thought about while growing up, but now that it is in sight, it has started playing on her mind.

    "I never thought I wanted to be in the history books and I want to do this and that," she said.

    "I think as I get older, I think naturally it's like, okay, I have a chance and I have an opportunity, and, you know, it could happen and that could be really nice."



    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    What draws Kenyan women to join al-Shabab and what challenges are they facing when they return to their communities?