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Sazali Abdul Aziz
Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014

Sports

Tennis: Serena guns for third successive WTA Finals title

The New Paper on Sunday | Sazali Abdul Aziz | Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014

Unfazed: Serena Williams (in yellow) oozing confidence at the WTA Finals Official Singles Draw Ceremony at Marina Bay Sands Shoppes Ice skating rink on October 18, 2014.

She's not just fit enough to play, but she's also ready to take on all comers.

A knee injury had cast doubt over Serena Williams' participation in the week-long BNP Paribas Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Finals Singapore that starts tomorrow at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

But there was no doubting her confidence, her combative mood.

After yesterday's draw at Marina Bay Sands, the world No. 1 said: "I don't care who I play, to be perfectly honest with you. "You can put me against anybody at this point, I'm ready. I really can't wait for my match. I wish I had a match tomorrow."

The 18-time Grand Slam champion had injured her left knee at the China Open on Oct 3, forcing her to retire from the tournament. She later said it would not be "smart for me to play" if the pain in her knee had not cleared up before the US$6.5 million (S$8.3m) Singapore Finals.

A WTA spokesman confirmed that German world No. 10 Angelique Kerber had been lined up as a replacement in case of Williams' withdrawal. And it must have come as a relief to the WTA that Williams has clearly put her injury behind her as she now zeroes in on a third successive title.

She was drawn into the Red Group yesterday, alongside fourth seed Simona Halep, fifth seed Eugenie Bouchard and seventh seed Ana Ivanovic.

Tournament director Melissa Pine was thrilled to have the world's top player in Singapore after the uncertainty of the past two weeks.

CHEERS

"Serena is here, she's practising, she's doing well and we look forward to seeing her out there on the court," said Pine, with a wide grin.

At yesterday's draw, the 33-year-old Williams grabbed all the attention wearing a bright yellow strapless dress. While World No. 2 Maria Sharapova had her fair share of cheers and wolf whistles, it was clear who the biggest star was.

Williams, though, was unfazed by the blinding flash of camera bulbs that accompanied her every move. She calmly sauntered up stage and declared her excitement on being in Singapore for the first time.

"Everyone here has been really cool... (and) I'm really looking forward to the time of my life," she gushed.

But it did not take long before Williams the competitor, the four-time Olympic champion, one of only five women to occupy the No. 1 spot on the WTA rankings for at least 200 weeks, emerged.

Asked for her reaction moments after the draw, she said: "I think everyone here is here to win. Everyone here is tough.

"Every match is going to be tough, so you have to be ready for that.

"I haven't played Bouchard yet and I think she's been the most consistent in all the Grand Slams this year, so she'll be a really tough match."

But, as we've heard, it really doesn't matter who you throw at her.

Williams is ready to show why she's No. 1.


This article was first published on October 19, 2014.
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