There is no doubt about it – Serena Williams is the queen of women’s tennis. The holder of 21 grand slam trophies and 70 career titles has long been unstoppable on the court. Last year, she claimed three of the year’s four majors, falling agonizingly short of completing the coveted calendar Grand Slam when she lost to Roberta Vinci in the US Open semifinals.
She’s brutally dominating, and her sheer power accompanied by those piercing screams just blows opponents away time and time again.
All that we know, but there’s a side to Serena we don’t often see. After her third-round victory over France’s Kristina Mladenovic at the French Open, we got a glimpse of the real Serena when she was out of public view — or so she thought.
Williams had knocked Mladenovic out of her home grand slam in straight sets, but was made to work a lot harder than most of her victories, taking the second set in an epic tiebreak. Mladenovic was clearly disheartened after the brutal defeat.
Knowing how down Mladenovic must have been, Williams offered more than just the obligatory handshake at the net. Waiting until the pair got back in the locker room, the American walked over to the French woman and gave her a hug.
It was a classy move from a classy woman. Wanting to do it in the private inner sanctum of the locker room was a nice touch, but we’re guessing Serena wasn’t banking on being caught by the all-seeing, all-knowing lenses placed in every nook and cranny at major sporting events these days.
It’s a rare insight into the person the younger Williams sister is off the court, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“It was very difficult today, she played really well,” said Williams, bidding for a fourth French Open title. “She forced me to play my best tennis.”
COVER CAPTION: Serena Williams shakes hands with Kristina Mladenovic after her third-round victory.