Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Serena Williams banking on success continuing

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08: (L-R) Former President Bill Clinton congratulates Serena Williams of the United States after her women's singles final victory on Day Fourteen of the 2013 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images for the USTA)

It was the morning after the night before and she had had just three hours' sleep, but Serena Williams looked a million dollars. Or perhaps to be more precise, she looked $3.6m, which was the prize-money she had earned by beating Victoria Azarenka the previous evening to claim her fifth US Open title.

Dressed in black and wearing such high heels that she would probably have towered over even her sister Venus, Williams reflected on her 17th Grand Slam title in the Manhattan offices of a bank that sponsors the tournament. It seemed an appropriate venue considering that she had just taken her earnings for the year to more than $9m (£5.8m) – only Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have ever won more in a single season – and her career prize-money to more than $50m (£32m).

"Someone told me I passed $50m, but half of that goes to my Uncle Sam," Williams said with a laugh, referring to her taxes. "I love him. I'm always giving him half my money."

As times passes Williams has taken triumphs in her stride. After Sunday night's 7-5, 6-7, 6-1 victory, the world No 1 went back to her hotel room and had room service before going to bed at 1am. She woke at 4am and was unable to sleep again: even after winning a Grand Slam singles title 17 times the excitement is clearly still there.

A 32nd birthday is approaching, but at this rate Williams is likely to continue her rampage through the sport's record books. Sunday night's Grand Slam triumph, which came 14 years after her first, takes the American within one Grand Slam singles title of the totals won by Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova and leaves her five behind the 22 won by Steffi Graf – the Open era record.

"I haven't thought of a number or age," Williams said when asked if she had considered when she might retire or the number of Grand Slam titles she might win. "I can tell you this: I don't see myself retiring any time soon. Obviously there are some goals that I want to reach and things that I want to do, so I'm just taking it day by day."

Despite having played singles and doubles at the year's final Grand Slam event and enjoyed more widespread success than ever before, having won 14 of her last 19 tournaments, Williams said she felt better physically than she had ever done. "I obviously have a few little pains here and there, but nothing serious or long-term," she said. "If I took five days off I wouldn't feel anything."

"I don't do anything so much different. I definitely have different eating patterns now, but I don't do anything crazily different from when I was younger. I just eat a lot healthier now. Now I am just eating a lot more greens."

Williams gave her father, Richard, the credit for her longevity. "My Dad gave myself and my sister a game that you can always grow and always build on, always improve. We had a power game, but we also had bigger serves that we could develop and we could develop more speed."

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