“We haven’t seen you since you pulled out of the Wimbledon semis. How are you feeling going into the Cincinnati Masters 1000?
I am happy to be back here after several years of absence. This is where I became number 1 in the world for the first time, in 2008, a great memory. And of course the title in 2013… I train quite well. I hope to be ready. A small abdominal tear is dangerous. It is an area that is dangerous because you use it a lot in each service, so I have to take precautions, do it well. That’s what I try to do.
“You can’t expect to play at an exceptional level from the start. Once you know that, once you’ve accepted that, you have to be humble enough to keep your tools of the day and win the first game.”
How have the last few weeks been in terms of preparation?
I went there in stages. I started doing ten services. I have been serving for ten days. silent first. I played my first practice set the day before yesterday (Friday), here. I need a few more days to analyze how it goes in terms of abdominal sensation. I was more than a month without serving and without playing a single set. I have to analyze how he reacts every day, make sure the abs are good. For now it’s fine. I can’t wait, I want to play tennis on the circuit again. I’m having a good season, I’m having fun, I want that to be the case this week in Cincinnati as well.
What are the keys to return well after several weeks of absence?
The first thing is to be aware that not everything is going to be perfect right away. You can’t expect to play at an exceptional level from the start. Once you know that, once you’ve accepted that, you have to be humble enough to stick with your tools of the moment and win the first game. When you win a game or two, things start to change.
There we will say that I play more or less correctly. I have a good feeling on the pitch, but the competition is always different. You have to accept the difficulties that are going to arise, especially in a Masters 1000. When you go back to a 250, or even sometimes a Grand Slam, if you have a little luck in the draw, even without playing very well, you can win some matches and give yourself time to raise your level of play In Masters 1000, the adversity is very high from the beginning. You have to play at a very high level right away. That’s what I need to do. I’ll try.
“Serena Williams? She is one of the greatest athletes of all time. I feel lucky to have shared so many years with her on tour. She is a great inspiration to a lot of people.”
You have the opportunity to become number 1 in the world again in the coming weeks. What would that mean to you, at 36?
The most important thing for me is to stay healthy. If not, everything else is impossible. As I said at the beginning of the season, being number 1 in the world can no longer be a goal. I don’t play for that. If it happens because I play very well in all the tournaments I participate in, great, of course. It’s an opportunity that you probably never could have imagined would happen again. But I won’t play more than I think my body can handle. I’m having a baby too!
I will give my all in every event I go to. But that’s something I always do, whether I’m in a position to be No. 1 in the world or not. Obviously, I am happy to be in this privileged position. And if that happens, it will be an incredible feeling.
Serena Williams is about to end her career. What does it represent for tennis?
I have many memories of her. He is one of the best athletes of all time. I feel lucky to have shared so many years with her on the circuit. Selfishly, I find it sad that she resigns. But we can’t thank her enough for all she has done for our sport. She is a great inspiration to many people around the world.
She deserves to choose what is best for her at this time in her life. I wish him well. I hope we continue to see her on the circuit. I have always thought that our sport and all sports are bigger and stronger when their legends are present. And Serena is a legend. »
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