© Ella Ling

Serena Williams

Has Serena given up kissing frogs?


Serena Williams has given up kissing frogs: “Fairy tales? Happy endings? The prince? Yeah, right.” Serena doesn’t date, she disclosed on Twitter the other day, information which should not only have been of interest to America’s supermarket tabloids.

Here is a woman whose love life helped shape the history of women’s tennis. It was because Serena felt betrayed and angry after being ditched by a man she calls “So and so” that she played the tennis which brought her four consecutive majors across the 2002 and 2003 seasons, an achievement she called ‘the Serena Slam’.

“The guy tore my heart in half,” she wrote in her autobiography about this unnamed jilter. “The worst part was that he left me thinking it was me. He left me thinking that I was ugly. So I decided that tennis would be my salvation. I would get So-and-so to regret how he had treated me. I wanted him to see me everywhere, to stay in this guy’s face, to be a constant reminder of what he had, to rise above his shabby treatment. It was all about lifting myself from the dirt he left my lying in.”

Some do not believe that Serena has given up dating. Serena’s suggestions that she is no longer looking for a prince has not ended the speculation about the nature of her relationship with Grigor Dimitrov, a Bulgarian tennis player known as ‘Prime Time’ who has often been compared to Roger Federer.

As Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times has pointed out, Dimitrov gave an odd television interview at this week’s tournament in Bucharest in which he did “not deny that a certain someone is with him”. A couple of months ago, The New York Post’s Page Six gossip column reported that Williams and Dimitrov were seen having lunch in Paris – where she has an apartment – and were also spotted strolling by the Eiffel Tower. In Miami last month, Serena watched Dimitrov’s matches, though the former world junior number one said that he and Williams were just friends.

Tennis players’ love lives have been in the news of late. Andy Murray was annoyed that a joke he made during an interview with Sir David Frost – that his girlfriend Kim Sears has been putting pressure on him to get married – was taken seriously in some quarters. “Just to clear this up, my girlfriend has never once pushed me to get married,” Murray wrote on Twitter.

But, as is often the case in tennis, it is Serena Williams who commands greater attention. Serena, who has previously dated the rapper Common, has suggested in the past that she can be “super picky”. She has also said, when asked what she’s looking for in a man: “Anywhere between 18 and 80, blond, purple or green.” Maybe that rules out the dark-haired Dimitrov.

So a couple of notable withdrawals from tournaments; one was easy to understand, the other one not so. Few should have been that surprised that the grieving Novak Djokovic has decided not to play at his own family’s tournament in Belgrade next week. It was only last week that his grandfather Vladimir passed away, and he was left without any “emotional energy” for the Monte Carlo final against Rafael Nadal. Which brings use to the decision which has attracted more comment, which is Mardy Fish opting to skip the Olympics to play in a regular ATP event in Washington.

This should not be used as evidence that modern tennis players do not care for the Olympics; Mardy’s a strange fish, the exception which proves the rule.