Serena Williams had a very exciting experience at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, meeting celebrity chef Silvena Rowe - and Chef Rowe was just as excited to meet her 'ultimate idol'.
WTA Staff

DUBAI, UAE - Serena Williams had a big moment at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships this week, joining forces with celebrity chef Silvena Rowe for Dubai's first 'Gastronomy Grand Slam'.

With Chef Rowe and Chef Eric Vasta, Executive Chef at the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, Williams made grilled green Shawarma marinated baby chicken with crunchy mint and pomegranate salad.

"That was a great way to help build up my appetite for another record-breaking year," said Williams, who won 11 WTA titles last year and shattered the previous single season prize money record of $7,923,920 by earning $12,385,572. "I had a great season in 2013 and I want to build on it this year.

"It's my fourth time in Dubai and I feel like I have some unfinished business."

Williams was very impressed by the dedication and enthusiasm by Chefs Rowe and Vasta.

"I've learnt that there are a lot of similarities between tennis and cooking in terms of organization and preparation. In both our businesses, so much goes on behind the scenes to make sure we're at optimum level come show time. For me, it's endless hours of practice to hone my game for competitive matches; for Silvena and Eric, it's researching and selecting ingredients, trying different recipes, experimenting with flavors and techniques - we can't afford to make mistakes when the heat is on."

Chef Rowe's interests in Dubai don't end with cooking - she used to play tennis in Bulgaria and the UK, and she was also an umpire at Wimbledon with the British Tennis & Umpire Association. She even watched Williams win Wimbledon three times from a seat in Centre Court at the All-England Club.

"I've always admired Serena because of the aggressive, powerful style of her tennis. Serena has won everything in the game and is simply phenomenal - she never gives up and is a remarkable woman. I have great respect for her physical and mental strength; she has the imposing presence on court that I have in my restaurants - she's my ultimate idol and I can't wait to see her on court in Dubai."

Just as Williams highlights the field at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships this week, Chef Rowe is a headline attraction at this weekend's inaugural Dubai Food Carnival - the opening event of the 23-day Dubai Food Festival, a city-wide celebration that kicks off this Friday, February 21.

For more information on the Dubai Food Carnival, please visit

Serena Williams, Silvena Rowe