Away from the tennis court, 30-year-old Serena Williams seems to be going through some changes. After waxing Lucie Safarova to win the Family Circle Cup on Sunday, Williams laughed on national TV about “recent heartbreak” and hinted that she might move to Paris.
In the pressroom this week, she’s talked about feeling stress from her schoolwork (she’s taking business management) and working to “stay in the moment.” Asked what song she would sing after winning her 40th WTA singles title Sunday, she chose “Time to Say Goodbye”, a ballad by Andrea Bocelli.
“I just — I need a change,” Williams said.
But on the court, Serena has rarely been better. The winner of 13 Grand Slam titles said she’s never played at a higher level than she has the last two days on Daniel Island’s Stadium Court.
“I’ve never played, I can say, consistently at such a high level with low errors,” she said after Sunday’s 6-0, 6-1 trouncing of the 26th-ranked Safarova. “And the scary thing is, I could have served so much better.”
In whipping Safarova and No. 5 Samantha Stosur, a 6-1, 6-1 victim in Saturday’s semifinals, Serena was on court for less than two hours (59 minutes Saturday, 58 Sunday) and belted a combined 56 winners and 12 aces. Her $115,000 winner’s check put her over the $35 million mark for her career.
“She was amazing,” said Safarova, who won $59,000 for her runner-up finish. “She deserved it.”
Williams, ranked No. 10 this week, is projected to move up to No. 9 on the WTA Tour ladder.
But when a reporter mentioned the No. 1 ranking on Sunday, she growled like a tiger on the prowl. Serena was last ranked No. 1 at the end of the 2009 season.
“Rrr, rrr, rrr,” reads the official transcript.
Indeed, this could be the summer of Serena in Paris (for the French Open) and in London (Wimbledon, the Olympics). She won’t play again until Madrid in early May.
Sunday’s title marked her fourth clay-court title, and her first since she won the Family Circle Cup in 2008.
Her only win on the red clay at the French Open came in 2002.
“It definitely is a motivating factor for me to go home and work harder,” said Serena, who won for the first time since taking back-to-back hardcourt titles last summer.
“I know Lucie and Sam (Stosur) and everyone else is going to work hard, too. And now they know what to expect even more so when they play me.”
What they can expect, it seems, is a Serena Williams determined to make the most of her tennis, no matter what else is happening.
“I’m just focused on the moment, I’m living in the present,” she said.
“Sometimes my mind does wander a little bit, but for the most part I’m just not thinking about too much, (like) life.”