“He’s one of the reasons I’m here,” Williams told reporters after beating Anett Kontaveit in three sets, “one of the main reasons I’m still playing.”
Jenkins: Master of her mind and body, Serena Williams evokes the determination of a champion
Woods was also an avid supporter who delivered a vintage Tiger fist pump when Williams’ victory was complete, later tweeting, “It was a privilege to see greatness.” But he was no ordinary fan.
With both of their storied track and field careers coming to an end, Woods, 46, and Williams, 40, forged a relationship in which she turned to him as a mentor, she recently revealed in Vogue.
Williams had played just four games in the past 14 months and won just once. Her last game before the US Open was a one-sided, error-ridden loss to 19-year-old Emma Raducanu on August 16 that lasted just 65 minutes. Her trip to Wimbledon this summer ended with a first round loss and an injury when she slipped on wet grass.
She started mentally preparing for what she calls her evolution into the future – business ventures and perhaps adding something to a family with 5-year-old daughter Olympia – but wasn’t quite ready to leave the sport in which she turned pro. . a 14 year old. Enter Forest.
“I spoke to Tiger Woods, who is a friend, and I told him I needed his advice on my tennis career. I said, ‘I don’t know what to do: I think I’m over it, but maybe I’m not there yet [tennis],’” Williams told Rob Haskell in Vogue. ‘He’s Tiger, and he was convinced I’d be a beast like him!
“He said, ‘Serena, what if you only give it two weeks? You don’t have to commit to anything. You just go out every day for two weeks, you give it your all and see what happens.’ I said, “Okay, I think I can do that.” ”
The question for Serena Williams now is how far can she go in the US Open?
Williams said she waited a month and then returned to court, where it “felt magical to pick up another racket.”
At the time she said she was “good. I was really good. I went back and forth about whether or not to play Wimbledon and then the US Open. Like I said, this whole evolution thing hasn’t been easy for me. ”
For now, its evolution is on hold. Next up at the US Open on Thursday night is doubles with her sister Venus. Playing the unseeded Ajla Tomljanovic on Friday, she knows that, with the No. 2 player out of the way, the draw will be in her favor for a while as she tries to match Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles.
“I know there’s a fantasy that I might have tied Margaret up in London that day [at Wimbledon], then maybe beat her record in New York, and then say ‘Goodbye!’ at the trophy ceremony,” Williams told Vogue. “…But I’m not looking for a ceremonial, last minute on the pitch. I’m terrible at saying goodbye, the world’s worst. But please know that I am more grateful to you than I can ever express in words. You have taken me to so many victories and so many trophies. I’m going to miss that version of me, that girl who played tennis. And I’m going to miss you.”