Fresh off her nineteenth Grand Slam, Serena Williams talks to Rebecca Johnson about fitness, forgiveness, and her friendship with tennis rival Caroline Wozniacki.
When the news broke last May that Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy had broken off his engagement to tennis champion Caroline Wozniacki—over a telephone call, no less—Serena Williams immediately began phoning and texting her best friend on the professional women’s tour. “I was devastated,” she says. “I had planned the bachelorette party!”
Six months later, Wozniacki and Williams are sitting, thigh to thigh, on a love seat in Williams’s Palm Beach Gardens house in Florida discussing the debacle. “My phone was going crazy,” Wozniacki remembers. “But I didn’t want to talk to anyone.” Most people got the message and stopped trying. But Serena Williams isn’t most people.
“I kept calling,” Williams says unapologetically.
Wozniacki smiles at the memory. “First she texted, ‘If you don’t pick up, I am going to fly to Monaco.’ And then, ‘If you don’t answer the door, I am going to knock it down.’ So I thought, OK, I better answer the phone. And I am so glad I did. She wasn’t pitying me, like a lot of people were. I mean, it’s not like anyone died. I was in shock, but she was really helpful because she had been through it before. She didn’t sugarcoat it, and she didn’t look down on me. She was really there for me when I needed her the most, and that’s why I think our friendship is so strong now.”
Serena Williams’s version of “7/11″ is a grand slam:
It’s hard and lonely at the top,” Williams observes. “That’s why it’s so fun to have Caroline and my sister, too
She won her first major at seventeen, and now she’s winning at 33?” says Brad Gilbert. “That kind of longevity is unheard-of”