Last night I caught most of the second set of Serena’s opening match against an unknown qualifier, a Portuguese woman named Neuza Silva (photo left courtesy yahoo). At least she was unknown to me. I have never heard of or seen this woman before in my life. This is probably because she is ranked # 154 in the world. Which is not a bad rank if you’re climbing your way upwards on the tour. But it’s a rank against which Serena had no business struggling.
Yet struggle she did. At least for portions of the second set. I missed the first set which Serena had clearly won easily. But in the second set, Serena seemed sometimes to have no clue what to do against a player whose style of play is probably more reminiscent of some of those aging hackers you see at country clubs everywhere. All slice and dice interspersed with downright hack shots.
And then there was the moment when Serena decided to respond to hack with hack. I laughed so hard it hurt. I could not believe my eyes when Serena reached forward and curved a forehand ball so viciously that I thought for sure it would explode. It was a hilarious moment. But Hack # 1 (Silva) eventually won the point.
So I’m sitting there watching these two hackers throw down some old style tennis that would have made my grandmother proud, when it occurred to me that Hack #1 was less than half the size of Hack #2. Honestly, Serena looked huge as she paced on the other side of the court waiting for Hack # 1 to throw down.
Now I have previously defended Serena’s girth by pointing out that people who criticize her body are confusing form with fitness. I stand by those observations. I think that Serena Williams is one of the strongest and fittest women on the tour. But I must admit that she seems to be getting larger by the minute. In fact, I found myself thinking that one of Serena’s legs could easily make two of Silva’s. Maybe three. And I know that the camera adds ten pounds. And that Serena has never exactly been petite, except of course in her own mind. But I have to admit that she seems to be becoming huger by the second.
My tennis coach thinks that the problem may be steroids. Not the illegal stuff that folks take to bulk up, but the legal stuff used to treat injuries and allergies. He believes that Serena’s excessive girth may be the result of prescribed medication she has been given to help her recover rapidly from a slew of past injuries.
I have no idea if he is right or not. But what I do know is that I found myself kind of cringing with embarrassment when I read an entry in her blog today in which Serena complained about her access to food at Wimbledon. Actually I started groaning painfully as I read her complaint. Serena does not make clear what "food" items she thinks she should be able to haul into the locker room, or in what quantities. But apparently fruit and health bars do not qualify. Girlfriend wants real food.
And I found myself thinking, of all the things Serena could pick to complain about, did she have to pick the availability of food? I know that she is a big girl who needs her nutrition. No doubt she can eat most women under the table. But did she have to make her appetite such a conspicuous topic of conversation? Honestly, I would have preferred not.