Serena Williams has played down her spat with Dominic Thiem at the French Open which led to the Austrian saying she had a “bad personality”.
There was controversy at Roland Garros when Thiem’s post-match press conference was abruptly cut short in order to allow Williams to fulfil her media duties after her third-round loss.
It left Thiem, who was still in the tournament and made it to the final, seething and he later criticised the 23-time grand-slam champion.
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The two have since cleared the air, but Williams, who is preparing for her Wimbledon campaign, insists that she did not demand for Thiem to be removed from the press conference, as has been reported.
“I asked them to put me in the small room,” the 37-year-old said. “I begged them to put me in the small room, and they didn’t.
“I said, ‘Listen, I can come back. I’m just going to go back’. They were like, ‘No, stay here’.
“They pulled him out. I was like, ‘You guys are so rude to do that’, quote-unquote, that’s what I said. The next day I had a bad personality. Literally that’s what happened.
The Austrian lost to Rafael Nadal in the final at Roland Garros for the second year running
Image credit: PA Sport
“I actually stuck up for the guy, so I don’t understand how I got a bad personality for telling them what they did was wrong to him.
“But we spoke about it. I’ve always liked him. I still like him. He’s a great player. I mean, he’s unbelievable.
“I’m really, quite frankly, too old to be in controversy. That’s why I just wanted to clear the air.
“I’m like, ‘Dude, I told them that it wasn’t right what they did’. He said he didn’t say ‘bad personality’, that the media mixed up his words. It’s all good.”
Williams’ French Open campaign was hampered by a knee injury and she has only been back training for the last two weeks.
She is aiming for a 24th grand slam and eighth at SW19, but is not thinking that far ahead.
“I haven’t had the best time and preparation that I normally would have,” she said.
“I’ve had a good week and a half, but I have been really just mentally training, physically training for that time here. I’m just going to do the best that I can now that I’m here.
“I can’t go into grand slams thinking about records. I just have to go in a grand slam and think about just the first match.”
New world number one Ashleigh Barty has also arrived at Wimbledon with injury issues as she skipped the tournament at Eastbourne this week, having followed her French Open success by winning at Birmingham, to rest an arm issue.
She is feeling good, though, and is not letting her new found status affect her.
“It’s been a really good couple of days,” she said. “It was nice to stay off the court for a few days, started hitting again on Thursday.
“As far as we’re going, everything has kind of worked out well with monitoring our loads, all those kind of things. So feeling good.”
Barty displaced Naomi Osaka at the top of the rankings, but the Japanese, who has won two of the last three grand slams, will regain her position if she claims victory at the All England Club.
Osaka does admit that she succumbed to the pressure of being on top of the world.
“Mentally it was way more stress and pressure than I could have imagined,” she said.
“I don’t think there was anything that could have prepared me for that, especially since I’m kind of an overthinker.
“I think it’s better for me now, I was going to say lower ranked, to be number two here because the only upside (of being number one) is if you win the tournament, you’re automatically number one.
“That, for sure, is a really big goal of mine. I don’t have to think about defending the ranking or anything.”
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