New York: Serena Williams missed one record on Friday when Roberta Vinci shattered her bid to claim a calendar Grand Slam but probably set another — for the shortest news conference of her career.
Serena Williams during her semi-final match against Italy’s Roberta Vinci on Friday. Pic/AFP
The 33-year-old American was undoubtedly hurting from her 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 US Open semi-final loss to the 43rd-ranked Vinci. But if she was, she chose not to share her pain. Twelve questions was all it took before the World No 1 announced enough was enough and made her exit, leaving reporters with just a few scraps from which to piece together a coherent post-mortem. "How disappointed are you?," enquired the first questioner.
"I don't want to talk about how disappointing it is for me. If you have any other questions, I'm open for that," responded the American. Not a great start. Her thoughts on how Vinci played, after all this was a woman who had lost all four of her previous matches against her without claiming a set. "I guess it's inspiring," she said.
"But, yeah, I think she played literally out of her mind." The day had started promisingly for the top seed, who was looking to be the first player to win all four Slams in the same year since Steffi Graf in 1988. If she had won the title, it would have been her 22nd major, equalling Graf's record for the modern era.
Williams was already assured of the crowd's support inside the Arthur Ashe Stadium. But just to ramp up the backing, the 33-year-old sported a patriotic red, white and blue ribbon on her jacket on the 14th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. What about the pressure of that Grand Slam bid? "No. I told you guys I don't feel pressure. I never felt pressure. I said that from the beginning."
Eyeing the exit door
After the ninth question, Serena was eyeing the exit door. "Last questions," she demanded. There were just three more. The first was met with another question. "Anyone else want to ask a different question than that?" she pleaded. And the last was a gimme, asking her to summarise the positives of the season. "Well, thank you. Like I said, I felt very happy to get that win at Wimbledon, you know. I did win three Grand Slams this year. Yeah, I won four in a row. It's pretty good. Yeah, so it's definitely the positive."