'At times when we won everything it was too boring'

A humbler Serena tells Clive White how the Williams are more valued after their absence

The second coming of the Williams sisters comes with a bonus.

Finally, we might see them fully appreciated for who they are and what they have achieved, because the truth is they are not loved as they should be. Serena seems to have returned to the game after her life-threatening injury a more humble and compassionate individual. Of course, she may have been always that but now she seems more than happy to reveal that side of her.

A year ago, when she was winning the Wimbledon singles title for a fourth time personally and a ninth time for the Williams family, it is inconceivable that she could have described her and her sister Venus's domination of the women's game as "too boring". Now after the foot injury that turned into a pulmonary embolism she won't even hear of words like "domination".

Lest anyone think she has lost all self-confidence one should add that she has not changed that much. Serena still believes she is the No 1 player in the world never mind what the WTA rankings may say – and they say she's No 26. But she couches it all differently now. The rise of Caroline Wozniacki – "I love her, she's a really good friend of mine" – and Victoria Azarenka, for example, was "a breath of fresh air". What a contrast to the old days when it was the Russians – loosely and a little discourteously sometimes referred to as "the Ovas" – who were posing the threat to the sisters' hegemony. The rivalry then was much more intense and far less friendly.

"It's definitely different now," she said. "Sometimes when I was winning everything and me and Venus were playing the finals it was too boring. And now we're not, they're like, 'We need them back' – you can't win for losing, you know. I still feel like I'm the No 1 even though I'm not and I'm not taking away anything from Caroline. Even if I had been playing for the past year and was No 50 I would still feel in my mind like I was No 1. If you don't feel that you're the best, you'll never be the best."

The girl who has come away from the All England Club clutching silverware in singles and doubles nine times admitted to a "love-hate relationship" with grass because of the inconsistent bounce. Even so she was "honoured" to go back there this year when her hair and nails, she revealed, will be streaked with the colour purple. She also hopes to be back there for the Olympics, when her goal will again be doubles rather than singles, providing she can play the requisite number of Fed Cup ties.

"Words can't describe how happy I am," she said. "When I think there was a time when I thought I would never be able to play a tournament, let alone Wimbledon, when I couldn't get out of bed or couldn't stop crying. I think, what doesn't 'break yer, make yer'." If she has any regrets about that evening in a German restaurant last July when she was out celebrating her Wimbledon victory and stepped on broken glass, seriously lacerating her foot, she does not show it. It was put to her that some people might have sued. Has she had an apology? "No, actually I haven't," she replied. "But what is an apology going to do for me? I'm not the type of person who holds grudges. If anything it can elongate my career and I can learn from the experience. It is what it is. If I could rewind time I'd probably go back to 2003."

That was the year the Williamses' half-sister Yetunde Price was murdered in a shooting in their home town of Compton. "I would just say [to her], 'Come with me' and maybe things would be different."

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam