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Grumpy Serena bids to make up for Paris pain

AFP

USA's Serena Williams hits a return during the French tennis Open second round match at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris on May 28, 2014USA's Serena Williams hits a return during the French tennis Open second round match at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris on May 28, 2014

USA's Serena Williams hits a return during the French tennis Open second round match at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris on May 28, 2014USA's Serena Williams hits a return during the French tennis Open second round match at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris on May 28, 2014

Serena Williams admits she will start her challenge for a sixth Wimbledon title still fuming over her shock defeat at the French Open.

Williams, who last won Wimbledon in 2012, slumped to an embarrassing second round exit in Paris as Spain's Garbine Muguruza crushed the world number one in straight sets.

It was one of the worst defeats of Serena's gloriously successful career, and coming after a last 16 loss at the Australian Open, added to the growing belief that she may no longer be at the peak of her powers.

Asked how quickly she had managed to put the French Open loss behind her, Serena said: "Who says I was over it? Yeah, I doubt it. Knowing me, no."

The 32-year-old American cut a grumpy figure at her pre-Wimbledon press conference on Saturday, issuing short answers to many questions and showing little of her effervescent personality.

Her downbeat mood was interpreted by some as a response to the decision by Wimbledon officials not to select her to play the first match on Centre Court on Tuesday.

That priviledge is usually given to the women's champion and, with last year's winner Marion Bartoli now retired, it was thought Serena, a 17-time Grand Slam champion, would be chosen.

Instead, tournament chiefs have picked Germany's Sabine Lisicki, who beat Serena in the fourth round at Wimbledon last year en route to a final defeat against Bartoli.

"She was in the final last year, so she was two sets closer than I was. So why not?" Serena said.

"For me, you have to be ready to play on any day."

Serena's struggles this year have only heightened her relief to be back at Wimbledon on the fast grasscourts that so suit her power game.

She has reached the final on seven occasions and is confident of once again carrying off the Venus Rosewater dish awarded to the women's champion.

"It feels good. When I came here, I just felt a sense of being home. I really like being here," she said.

"I'm really prepared for and really excited to be here.

"I feel good. I've been doing just a lot of training, just working out, trying to get ready for the next event, which so happens to be Wimbledon."

One of Serena's few bad memories at Wimbledon came when she lost the 2004 final to a then unknown teenager called Maria Sharapova.

Quizzed about the 10th anniversary of that defeat, Williams briefly cast off her gloomy mood to pay a generous tribute to Sharapova's career.

"It's hard to believe it's been 10 years. It's not many people that have a really long career like that. Just speaking longevity-wise, I think it's great," she said.

"You have to evolve. You can't just play tennis and just keep hitting and hitting. You have to do things better and I think she's been able to do that."

Date created : 2014-06-21