OOH LA LA SERENA VAINQUEUR

By Craig Gabriel

PARIS: Serena Williams admitted to being a bit nervous twice with her match. The first time because of what happened here at Roland Garros twelve months ago and the second time when she decided to speak to the crowd in French.

“I was definitely nervous,” said Serena Williams after her first round match at the French Open and for anyone who remembers last year’s French Open, they would appreciate why the world No.1 would have felt that way.

Twelve months ago the unthinkable happened when Serena lost in the first round to the French player Virginie Razzano, but that was not going to happen this time. That previous occasion was the only time she had lost in the first round of one of the four majors but in a strange twist after that result Serena has produced one of the most remarkable years of her career.

“I have to say I’m always a little nervous going into first‑round matches at Slams, but this time I wasn’t as nervous as I was, you know, previously or another in other Grand Slams,” she added after scoring a resounding 6-0, 6-1 victory over Anna Tatishvili of Georgia, in eastern Europe.

“For the most part, I, you know, felt pretty safe and felt good about my game and that if I can just do what I do in practice, I’ll be okay.”

But the speaking French aspect was “way, way, more nerve‑wracking than playing tennis.”

“I decided a while ago that I should just (go for it). I have been speaking French for years and years, but I don’t really have a lot of confidence,” she said smiling coyly. “I just had to kind of jump in. Like once I get there and I get warmed up, I know how to say things and what I can speak.  It’s just getting that confidence to speak in French.”

Serena has won 15 Grand Slams but this one, the French Open is where she has been least successful with just one (no doubt every player would love to have that just one) title. There4 is no doubt she is capable of claiming another and she is definitely going to keep trying.

“Just think I may have gotten nervous in the past or may have basically choked a few matches away, you know,” she said. “And played some opponents that played well, but I have probably had opportunities and gave it away. I think, you know, some matches I just lost because maybe I wasn’t intense enough or maybe I didn’t do enough work before I got here to the tournament.”

This year she seems to be in a different frame of mind and fingers crossed the dividends will be very positive.

“I feel on this surface you have to be ready to have lots of long points and be ready to win those long points,” said Serena.