Tennis

Williams sisters not retiring

2012-06-23 15:59
Venus and Serena Williams (File)

London - Former Wimbledon champion Serena Williams has hit back at suggestions that she and sister Venus could be ready to retire from tennis.

After over a decade as the sport's most dominant forces, both Serena and Venus head into Wimbledon, which starts on Monday, without a grand slam title between them since 2010.

The American sisters are both in their 30s now and have never hidden their desire to pursue off-court interests in fashion and show business.

That, combined with a decline in their performances, has led to a belief they could be ready to call it quits.

Venus, 32, has struggled to recover from Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes fatigue and joint pain, and the five-time Wimbledon champion will be unseeded at the All England Club for the first time since 1997 after dropping to 55th in the world rankings.

Serena, 30, remains a powerful force, but she hasn't won a grand slam since her fourth Wimbledon triumph in 2010 and her first round exit from the French Open against Virginie Razzano last month ranked as her worst ever result at a major.

Even so, Serena is adamant she and Venus love the sport too much to contemplate retirement.

"I have no intention of stopping and I don't think she (Venus) does either. We're definitely connected at the hip (in that respect)," Serena said.

"I enjoy being out there on the court so much and I've been having so much fun, so it's been great.

"I love competing. I love the challenge. I love holding up trophies. So I guess if ever I feel that I can't do that, then maybe I won't play anymore."

Serena's bubbly character and love of the spotlight make it hard for her to even consider walking away from a sport that allows her to be the centre of attention.

"I love stepping out on that court, having that atmosphere, that moment," she said.

"That moment is all about me. Maybe it's a little selfish, but I love that feeling."

Asked if she would find it hard to replicate the buzz of playing at events like Wimbledon when she does eventually retire, Serena said: "Probably, yeah. But you have to make adjustments, for sure. Who knows, maybe I'll become a rockstar!"

In order to experience more moments in the spotlight, Serena will have to improve significantly on her last visit to the All England Club, which ended with a last 16 defeat against Marion Bartoli.

Serena, who faces Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the first round here, insists her confidence has not been shaken by losing to Razzano at Roland Garros and the sixth seed expects to make a strong recovery .

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't feel confident," she said. "Whether I had won in Paris or lost like I did in the first round, I am always extremely motivated.

"Every experience to me is a learning experience. If you don't learn from it then it will keep happening."

"If anything, I think losing makes me even more motivated. It usually does. So we'll see."

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