LONDON, July 7 (Reuters) - She now has five Wimbledon singles titles, has a serve that is almost unplayable on the lawns and even named her dog after one of greatest men’s players to grace the surface, yet Serena Williams still says she really does not like grass.
The 30-year-old American carved another landmark on the All England Club’s famous Centre Court on Saturday when she overpowered Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska to move level with her sister Venus’s singles haul at the championships.
Despite being a relative veteran of the women’s game, the American is clearly not finished yet and, should she stay fit and healthy, few would bet against her matching the six of fellow American Billie Jean King here in 12 months’ time.
Yet the girl who learned her trade belting balls on the public hardcourts in Compton, insists the plush Wimbledon lawns still have her scratching her head at times.
”I don’t love grass, to be honest,“ Williams told reporters before heading back out to contest the women’s doubles final with Venus. ”I always say that every year.
”I‘m like, Gosh, the grass! I‘m not the biggest grass court player because I always get bad bounces and I‘m always complaining, and I hate it when I get a bad bounce.
“But, for whatever reason, I do really well here.”
The serve certainly helps. During her seven singles victories here this past fortnight she slammed down 102 aces, 24 of them coming in the semi-final against Victoria Azarenka and another 17 against Radwanska.
She also served a perfect game of four aces in the third set on Saturday to regain control of a match that she had let slip out of her control after breezing through the first set.
Serena said she rarely practises the swing that she modelled on seven-times men’s champion Pete Sampras - one of the greatest servers of his generation.
“I used to want to serve just like Pete,” said Williams, who now has an identical grand slam haul to that of Sampras - 14 titles from 18 finals.
“But I think my motion changed. It doesn’t look anything like his. But I definitely wanted to. That was the intention.”
“I really loved Pete when I was younger,” added Williams.
”My dog’s name is Jackie Violet Pete after Pete Sampras, so obviously I‘m a little bit obsessed.
“I didn’t realise I had the same stats. Clearly my career is not over, so I definitely want to do a few more.”
Williams, who has battled back from a career-threatening foot injury and serious health problems since her previous grand slam singles title at Wimbledon in 2010, said all that she had achieved was inspired by her sister.
”I don’t know what I would have (won) if Venus didn’t exist,“ she said. ”I don’t even know if I would own a grand slam title or if I would play tennis, because we do everything together. Growing up I copied Venus, everything she did. She was a real big influence for me.
”When she started winning, I wanted it so bad. When she became number one, I had to be number one. I had to work harder. I had to do everything in my power to get there.
“I just am so influenced and amazed by her playing and doing so well. It’s just amazing.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Toby Davis