*Tennis champ Serena Williams is opening up about her legacy, life amid the COVID-19 lockdown and playtesting her new Wilson racket.
In a new interview with Complex, Williams dishes about transitioning into a new Wilson frame, which she used during the year’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open.
Serena currently has a “signature” Wilson Blade SW 104, and she and Roger Federer are the only Wilson athletes with signature frames. But Serena wanted to upgrade to a frame that will give her maximum control to support her aggressive play, the report states.
Her request put Wilson into months of design, and now the superstar athlete is speaking about the final result.
Check out excerpts from her complex.com Q&A below.
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I met this guy 5 years ago today. Thanks to truffles- and Rome (or was it 6 years?)? pic.twitter.com/GqKRYhRij4
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) May 12, 2020
How do you describe playtesting your new Wilson racket?
It is hard. The playtesting is hard because as a tennis player it is different, the tennis racket is such a specific thing and it is really interesting, as a tennis player, just how to deal with that. It is really an involved process and it is a long process. You have to take your time. It is not an overnight switch and at some point, you need to have a leap of faith. You can test it for hours and hours and hours and literally maybe even months sometimes. Some things that might feel good to you might feel terrible a week later. People from Wilson came down (to Florida) and for me it was ‘Wow, you are flying again?’ They like to be there in person and take in-depth notes.
What specific changes were you looking for?
I play with a big frame (104 square inches) and a big racket and I’m not complaining about it, I have done pretty well with it, but the change I was looking for was to have a little more control. I am always asking Wilson is there a new technology, something I can be doing? I love new technology. I am in that industry and business and I love the idea of never being left behind.
Has your perspective on tennis gear changed over the years?
Yeah, over the years I have always been pretty open-minded and even more so now. I am just continuing with that no matter how long I am in my career I am being open-minded. I want to be able to continue to change with the times.
How involved were you with the process with Wilson?
It took me a few months. We had a tremendous amount of play tests a few months ago, maybe 10 months ago. And the person who came down, Ron Rocchi (who has worked with Williams since she turned pro in 1995), he decided he needed to go back into the lab and create another racket. He came out with a new racket after four months. We tried six of them and I was getting frustrated. The less information, the better. I want to go off how I feel, so we kind of took that and talked about what I liked. It took several months and, in the end, I ended up jumping in the water. This is what I wanted to do, jump in the deep end.
Your on-court legacy is well established in your 25 years of winning titles, what kind of off-court legacy do you hope you’re establishing?
Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t think the person trying to establish a legacy says I want to be this. I just want to be real and that is all.
Women’s tennis is arguably the most prominent women’s sport in the world, what needs to happen for the game to continue to grow?
I think the game is growing well. There are so many amazing young players that are going to grow the game even bigger. Women’s tennis is doing very good. It will be interesting to see what happens to all of tennis. Even after the pandemic will everyone be even more interested and miss tennis and being around tennis? Women’s tennis continues to be great.
Read the full interview here.