SER­ENA SAYS SHE’S READY FOR WIM­BLE­DON,

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Sports - BY HOWARD FEN­DRICH

It’s hard to know ex­actly what Ser­ena Wil­liams will be able to do over the next two weeks at the All Eng­land Club.

On the one hand, due at least in part to an injured left knee, Wil­liams is short on matches and train­ing time this sea­son, fac­tors she cited af­ter her third-round exit June 1 at the French Open, her most re­cent tour­na­ment.

She has only 12 tourlevel matches so far in 2019. Just four of the other 127 women in the Wim­ble­don field have fewer; 105 have at least twice as many.

Even Sat­ur­day – when she de­clared she’s “feel­ing bet­ter” and her coach, Patrick Mouratoglo­u, said the 37-year-old Amer­i­can “doesn’t have pain any­more” – Wil­liams let out a chuckle when she pro­claimed, “I’ve had a good week and a half.”

Hardly the ideal amount of prac­tice to try to get ready for Grand Slam com­pe­ti­tion.

And yet, on the other hand, as Wil­liams put it with a wry smile, “I know how to play ten­nis.” Yes. Yes, she does. This is, af­ter all, a seven-time cham­pion and three-time runner-up, in­clud­ing last year, on the grass at Wim­ble­don, where play be­gins Mon­day. She also is the owner of 23 Grand Slam sin­gles tro­phies in all, more than any­one else in the pro­fes­sional era and one shy of equal­ing Mar­garet Court’s record for the most in ten­nis his­tory.

“She didn’t do any­thing, re­ally, like what she usu­ally does, in terms of re­sults this year. Even in Aus­tralia, she lost quite early for her, the quar­ters. So she hasn’t played her best,” Mouratoglo­u said, be­fore ut­ter­ing a sin­gle sen­tence that speaks vol­umes: “But she’s Ser­ena.”

“And,” he added in an in­ter­view, “the weapons she has are prob­a­bly even more efficient on grass than on any other sur­face.”

Af­ter the French Open, and her ear­li­est loss at any ma­jor since 2014, Wil­liams stuck around in Paris to see doc­tors.

Then, as usual, she skipped all tuneup events on grass. Wil­liams started prac­tic­ing in the mid­dle of last week, start­ing with about a half-hour on court on Day 1 and work­ing her way up to a cou­ple of hours, plus gym time, by Day 4.

“The great news is she’s pain-free now. In Roland Gar­ros, she was in a lot of pain. The prepa­ra­tion was dif­fi­cult be­cause of that rea­son. So we were more try­ing to deal with the pain, rather than pre­pare for a Grand Slam,” Mouratoglo­u said. “Here, it’s dif­fer­ent. We got rid of the pain 15 days af­ter Roland Gar­ros and we fi­nally pre­pared the way we want to pre­pare. It was a bit short, but she’s do­ing bet­ter every day. The sur­face is great for her. She doesn’t have pain any­more. It’s heaven.”

Wil­liams could get a chance to ease into things. Her first-round op­po­nent is qual­i­fier Gi­u­lia Gat­toMon­ti­cone of Italy, who will be mak­ing her de­but in Wim­ble­don’s main draw. Next might come an­other qual­i­fier.

Then things should get more in­ter­est­ing. Quickly. In the third round, Wil­liams could face No. 18 seed Julie Go­erges, her semi­fi­nal op­po­nent a year ago.

PETER KLAUN­ZER AP

Ser­ena Wil­liams started prac­tic­ing in the mid­dle of last week with about a half-hour on court the first day and worked her way up to a cou­ple of hours, plus gym time.

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