- Serena Williams addressed the media on Thursday ahead of the US Open. "I don't feel that fresh pressure," Serena said. "If I make it far, maybe I'll start to feel pressure. But as of now, I really don't feel any. I'm just here, like I said earlier, to perform and to the best I can."
- Serena on how Wimbledon helped prepare her for her daunting US Open run. "I think Wimbledon gave me unbelievable practice for this. At Wimbledon I was going for the second Serena Slam. That is rare. So, yeah, that really gave me the best practice and preparation in terms of going for the Grand Slam."
- So does Serena believe she's the greatest of all time? "No, I can't sit here and say that," she said. "But I can sit here and say that I'm the greatest player that I've been able to be. I do read numbers and I do see numbers. I believe in those numbers. I think different generations and different times have different champions, have different greats, have different levels of players. It's really difficult to compare, you know, one generation to another, generations several ago. Things change: power, technique, technology. A lot of things have contributed to that."
- Louisa Thomas for Grantland on the woman Serena Williams is on the brink of catching: Steffi Graf.
If Serena does, it will be more than a triumph; it will be a coronation. Which is as it should be. For her longevity, for her skill, for her ability to will herself to win when she is down, for her record against any would-be rival, for the way she has transformed the sport, she deserves the attention she gets, and more. But it's a mistake to recall Graf's calendar slam ? or "Golden Slam," with the Olympic gold included ? as just a reference point. There are different ways to dominate.
When she did it, Graf changed the game. She beat contemporaries and legends, serve-and-volleyers and baseliners, clay-court specialists and Wimbledon champs. She played a new kind of game, overpowering and versatile and fast. "Navratilova looks absolutely old-fashioned," wrote the L.A. Times before the 1988 Wimbledon final. In the final of the Australian Open that year, Evert, a baseliner who won 18 major titles and spent 260 weeks ranked no. 1, seemed to stand still while Graf moved and flowed.
Shilstone filled an empty one-gallon bleach bottle with water and left the cap off. He told Williams to jump in the deep end of the pool and tread water while holding the bottle over her head with two hands, tipping it so the water could run out. Once it was empty, she could swim to the wall. Williams had to bob and kick and gasp. Shilstone waited 30 seconds and asked her to do it again. He said they repeated this several times, and that he asked her to do it as much for her mind as her body. "I had to teach her that she could function out of breath," he said.
Williams said it worked. "I had to just really learn how to re-expand [my lungs] and make the part that I have left stronger," she said. "I had to train different."
- From Frank Deford for NPR: What if Serena faced tougher rivals?
- Via Buzzfeed: Serena Williams in Legos.