Interview by Vincent Cognet for l’Equipe, translation by Tennis Buzz:

Q: Are you interested in this controversy over equal prize money in tennis or does it bother you?

It annoys me, for sure! I see no reason to change that. What bothers me is the cyclical side of this controversy. Beside that, there are some valid points. The men’s tour is actually more attractive than the women’s tour. There is no debate: probably three of the six greatest players in history are playing at the same time. The women’s tour has seen a period like this, ten years ago. What I don’t understand is that money earned by women is not earned to the detriment of men… So where’s the problem? Obviously, Roger, Rafa and Novak are carrying all of tennis, including women’s tennis that is not at that level. But why shouldn’t everyone profit from it? I find this discussion very sterile.

Q: But you understand the players’ position …

If we speak of the Grand Slams, it is understandable. They play best of five, it’s not the same format … Valid argument. I understand it well because I am rather favorable that women play best of five sets in the final rounds. Ot that men play best of three in the early rounds of the tournament. There aren’t many balanced matches in the first week. At the same time, adding a third set for the women could make the semis or finals more interesting.

Q: Do you think this debate exhales reeks of machismo or sexism?

Society as a whole is still and always sexist. We have the chance to play in a sport where equality is defended. We even may be trailblazers. And I’m happy about it.

Q: Have you talked about it with Andy (Murray)?

Obviously. Given the context, it was obvious. (She smiles.) I knew very well what he was going to say to journalists. We’d talked about it before. I asked him his opinion before his press conference and we discussed. I did not dictate him anything. He has very strong opinions about it. And above all, he has very interesting arguments. He has a very broad, very Anglo-Saxon vision of things. For him a woman ranked 100th in the world must have the same opportunities as a man ranked 100th. His view is: why should a man ranked 7Oth in the world earn more than Serena, just because he has a pair of balls and is born in the same era as Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, even though he doesn’t sell a single ticket? The debate isn’t about whether the men’s tour is more attractive. It’s about equal opportunities. And Andy has understood this perfectly.

Q: Problems within the French Tennis Federation, suspicions of match-fixing, Maria Sharapova failed drug test, the debate on equal prize money: is tennis suffering?

Yes. The image conveyed is terrible. It saddens me deeply. I find it pitiful. We are talking constantly about all these cases. We never talk about performance, values, commitment, sweat, transcendence. Yet this generation is exceptional. But it’s clear that tennis is taking a hit right now. Betting fixes, doping … There’s only one thing to do: keep fighting and cleaning up.

Q: Will we have again a golden era for women’s tennis (2000-2005)?

Hard to answer … Will Bouchard replace Sharapova? Impossible to know it. Two things characterized our time. First, the density of champions. We had, at the same time, Williams, Henin, Clijsters, Sharapova, Davenport, Capriati, me, etc. It was just huge. Then, very different personalities, stories and charisms. Today, do we have both? Among the twenty-two, twenty-three years old, we have Bouchard, Keys, Muguruza … and “Caro” (Garcia) and “Kiki” (Mladenovic) in France. Do they have charisma? It’s hard to say. They would have to show it very quickly, in any case. But the problem is that it is hard to exist when you rub shoulders with Williams and Sharapova. Often,
people reveal themselves when they get rid of strong personalities that surround them and maybe stifle them.
It will be easier for young players to win, but also to position themselves, to open up, unfold and be assertive.

Q: It is important?

Essential. It’s sport after all! Values in sport are keys. What happens with Sharapova’s positive test is terrible. A champion like her involved in a doping story, it’s horrible for the image of tennis.
You have to try to be impeccable. The road is not always linear but you can also get better with time. Serena did it for example. She better takes the full measure of her role and responsibilities now than ten years ago. Young players don’t realize that. At least not yet.

Q: Are we right to worry about the women’s tour, post-Williams and post-Sharapova?

In the same way we can worry for men’s tennis! What about after-Federer, Nadal and Djokovic? These guys are legends. And it’s hard to replace legends. In fact, today, I put both circuits in the same basket.
Men’s tennis is not safe from falling out or disinterest. For now, the Kyrgios, Zverev, Coric don’t exist. There is a world between them and the “Big Four”. But this can change.

Q: Are the ATP and the WTA as consistent one than the other?

The only thing I can say, is that ATP seems much more pro-active. But the era is favourable for them. When was the WTA stronger? In my time, because there was a bunch of champions. Today, the WTA is more of a follower.

Q: Is it not also too protective? When the Sharapova case happened, the WTA gave prepared replies to all players!

I saw that. I’ll tell you something: to varying degrees, it has always existed. They are afraid. But honestly, I think the players say what they want. I think they should not do it but in my opinion, it changes nothing. I don’t have the image of girls standing to attention.

Q: In addition, it would go against what they are looking for: the expression and the development of personality…

Exact. Instead, explaining the situation to a player before a press conference can only be a plus. There, the WTA has a role to play. But they can say to a player: “It would be good to say that,” I am pretty sure it has no impact.

Q: Would you be interested in taking part to participate to a working group about the future and promotion of women’s circuit?

I should be… but no! (She bursts laughing.) I prefer to be on the court. I hope to contribute but in another way. By being Fed Cup captain in particular. I like to see this team leads people behind it. But to sit around a table meeting after meeting, is not my thing. I’m more into action. Providing direction, inculcating values, imposing respect … that’s what drives me.

2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber

Everyone told me to enjoy the match but I wanted to win

Interview by Stern, translation by Tennis Buzz

After her Australian Open victory, Angelique Kerber is at the zenith of her career and in the footsteps of her idol Steffi Graf. “Everything that happened for the last two weeks is amazing”, said Kerber after her surprising triumph in the final against world number one Serena Williams.

The following night was short for Angelique Kerber. The new world number two did not sleep a wink. The day after her big win in Melbourne, she did attend various press events and jumped into the Yarra river.

How was your night and when did you leave the stadium on Saturday?

I have not slept a minute. I think it was something like three o’clock when I left the stadium. I did four hours of press. Then I had the doping test, and after that we came back to the hotel. I got changed quickly and we went out. And here I am.

Have you any idea of what awaits you in Germany now?

I know that when I land on Monday morning in Francfort, something is being organized. What exactly, I don’t know yet. Then I’ll definitely spend Monday night with my family and friends and go eat something. And on Tuesday I’ll go Leipzig for Fed Cup. For sure, lots more will happen to me.

If you had to give an explanation on this success, what would it be?

I really think the explanation is that I believed in me. I always have, but never as I did after the match against Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals, it was new.
Somehow it made something ‘click’. Even when I went against Serena, I said, I want to win this thing. Everybody told me I should just enjoy it and just play a good match. But I said myself: to enjoy it is good, but you can enjoy it afterwards. You go out there and try, and make the best of the chances you get.

And you succeeded…

Yes, I really did. I don’t know how I managed it, but I believed in me. I think this was the key to victory. I enjoyed the whole two weeks, but I wanted to show that I was worthy of the final and that I wanted to defeat her.

If you look back at your beginnings, what is the biggest step you made since then?

I think the whole experience I’ve made since then helps me now and for the future. Now I’m ready to really enjoy it. If I had won two or three years ago, I don’t know if I would have enjoyed and experienced it as I do now. Now I know, thanks to the tournaments I won before, what will happen to me.

It has often been said, that of this generation of you, Andrea Petkovic and Sabine Lisicki, nobody will make it and win a Grand Slam. Why did you managed it?

This is hard to say. I think I’ve experienced so many things in the last two weeks. I also learned you don’t need to play your best tennis two weeks long. But you have to believe in you for two weeks. You also need a little luck.
I simply believe that the time has come. I’ve always said, when the time comes, I’ll win something big. And I’ve just done it. Lots of people didn’t believe in but I think now, I don’t need to prove anything to anyone.
I am the world number two and I won a Grand Slam title. What more?

Do you think you will be perceived differently now on the tour? After all you are now a Grand Slam champion.

I don’t think a lot will change. I am curious, but I’m looking forward. Now I reached a high point in my career. I’m curious to see how things will change and how people react. It’s something different now. There are not many Grand Slam winners.

Is it even more special to win the title against Serena Williams?

In any case, that means a lot to me. Serena is an absolute champion, she wrote history and is a huge inspiration for me. To play against her is always something special. To face her in the final is an absolute honor, and to have played a good match makes the title even more special.

Serena Williams, Australian Open 2016

Even though there has been a lot of talks prior the Australian Open about Serena’s form, her presence in the final is all but a surprise. On the other hand, Angelique Kerber’s run to the final is quite unexpected.

Serena Williams’ road to the final

Serena‘s toughest match to advance to the final was her first round victory over the unpredictable Italian Camila Giorgi: she lost 9 games, the same number of games she lost to Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska, combined! She’ll be the heavy favorite against first time Grand Slam finalist Angelique Kerber.

Round Opponent Score
R1 Camila Giorgi 6-4 7-5
R2 Su-Wei Hsieh 6-1 6-2
R3 Daria Kasatkina 6-1 6-1
R4 Margarita Gasparyan 6-2 6-1
QF Maria Sharapova [5] 6-4 6-1
SF Agnieszka Radwanska [4] 6-0 6-4
Angelique Kerber’s road to the final

Angelique Kerber, Australian Open 2016

Angelique Kerber saved a match point to get past Misaki Doi in the first round and then never looked back. She beat only one seed en route to the final: Victoria Azarenka that many saw as Serena’s main rival in Melbourne.

Round Opponent Score
R1 Misaki Doi 6-7 7-6 6-3
R2 Alexandra Dulgheru 6-2 6-4
R3 Madison Brengle 6-1 6-3
R4 Annika Beck 6-4 6-0
QF Victoria Azarenka [14] 6-3 7-5
SF Johanna Konta 7-5 6-2
Serena Williams – Angelique Kerber head to head: 5-1

Serena and Angelique met six times, each time on hard court:

Year Tournament Surface Winner Score
2007 US Open R1 Hard Serena Williams 6-3 7-5
2012 Cincinnati QF Hard Angelique Kerber 6-4 6-4
2012 WTA Championships R1 Hard Serena Williams 6-4 6-1
2013 WTA Championships R1 Hard Serena Williams 6-3 6-1
2014 Miami QF Hard Serena Williams 6-2 6-2
2014 Stanford F Hard Serena Williams 7-6 6-3

Only three players have beaten in a Grand Slam final so far: her sister Venus (2001 US Open and Wimbledon 2008), Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004 and Sam Stosur at the 2011 US Open. Will Angelique Kerber be the fourth?

Who will be the 2016 Australian Open champion?

  • Serena Williams (38%, 41 Votes)
  • Maria Sharapova (22%, 24 Votes)
  • Other (14%, 15 Votes)
  • Garbine Muguruza (9%, 10 Votes)
  • Agnieszka Radwanska (7%, 8 Votes)
  • Angelique Kerber (5%, 5 Votes)
  • Simona Halep (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Karolina Pliskova (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Petra Kvitova (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Venus Williams (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Timea Bacsinszky (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 107

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Photo credit: Margarette Reyes, Emma McPherson

Serena Williams, Australian Open 2016

Serena Williams dispatched world number 82 Su-Wei Hsieh in two sets 6-1 6-2. Her opponent in the third round is world number 61 Daria Kasatkina.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams
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Serena Williams, Australian Open 2016

There has been lots of talk lately about Serena‘s actual form after her withdrawals in Perth. Injured? Healthy?Demotivated? Focused? But on Monday she showed she is ready to defend her title in Melbourne and win a 22th Grand Slam title. Here are a few pictures of her 6-4 7-5 victory over the unpredictable Camila Giorgi:

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

 

Serena Williams

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Serena Williams NikeCourt Flare

We already showed the outfit Serena Williams will be wearing at the Australian Open, and today we have a look at the shoes she will be sporting: yellow NikeCourt Flare shoes.

Serena Williams NikeCourt Flare

The NikeCourt Flare was launched at Wimbledon last year, and was created specifically in response to Serena’s ankle issues. Learn more about the Flare’s design process here.

Serena Williams NikeCourt Flare

Serena Williams NikeCourt Flare

Serena Williams NikeCourt Flare

Shop Serena’s NikeCourt Flare now

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