Wil­liams hopes to seal his­tory

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Sport - Pra­[email protected] times­group.com

New York: ‘Fi­nals’ was the theme of the me­dia in­ter­ac­tion. The thought and the talk. It was tossed at Ser­ena Wil­liams so many times, it echoed the buzz of a mantra.

Wil­liams, play­ing her fourth ma­jor fi­nal af­ter a dif­fi­cult child­birth two years ago, was asked about her mind­set com­ing into yet an­other ti­tle-round clash. She had fin­ished on the wrong side of the score­line on the three pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions. What are the dom­i­nant emo­tions? Does she feel re­laxed? All in the con­text of a Grand Slam fi­nal. Per­force.

On Satur­day — 20 years af­ter she won her first Grand Slam ti­tle here when a lit­tle short of her 18thbirth­day — Wil­liams will take on 19-yearold Cana­dian Bianca An­dreescu in a clash where one woman is look­ing to seal his­tory, while the other is de­ter­mined to script a dar­ing piece.

Wil­liams, who has played just seven tour­na­ments this year, mak­ing back-to-back fi­nals in Wim­ble­don and Toronto for her best re­sults of the sea­son, has made it three fi­nals in a row now. “I wanted to play more tour­na­ments. I was go­ing to play Cincin­nati, I had a great sum­mer planned. Un­for­tu­nately it didn’t work out for me,” said Wil­liams, who ad­mit­ted to need­ing more matches.

She couldn’t put her plan into prac­tice be­cause of in­jury woes and ended up com­pet­ing again af­ter Wim­ble­don fol­low­ing a five-week gap. “I had a tough year with in­juries, mostly bad luck. I needed to get

Wil­liams said she’s more re­laxed this time around. So much so that she hasn’t thought about last year’s ti­tle clash against Ja­panese Naomi Osaka, where the Amer­i­can had a melt­down.

“My day off isn’t a day off. I’m lit­er­ally hang­ing out with baby, I’m do­ing ac­tiv­i­ties with her. I don’t want her to for­get me,” she said with a smile. “I’m a full- time mom first, fore­most. So, yeah, I train, and then I rush home. The other day I found a tram­po­line park I wanted to take her to. At the end of the day, that’s what mat­ters to me, is just be­ing there for my daugh­ter.

“Be­ing in a Grand Slam is dif­fi­cult be­cause it takes away a lot of the time that we nor­mally have to­gether. She’s start­ing to lear n things. Her brain is pro­cess­ing things more. I want to be a part of that. I don’t want any­thing else to take that away,” Wil­liams said, adding, “Be­ing on the court is al­most a lit­tle bit more re­lax­ing than hang­ing out with a two-year-old that’s drag­ging you ev­ery­where. I think that’s kind of been a lit­tle help­ful.”

Typ­i­cally Wil­liams didn’t let all that Grand Slam fi­nal talk slide with­out mak­ing her point. In her fourth ma­jor fi­nal since child­birth, even if she’s yet to win one, she has bet­ter num­bers than any­one else on the Tour. “It’s not easy to go through what I did and come back. I’m not 20 years old. I’m pretty proud of my­self,” she said.

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