Serena Williams, the defending champion at Wimbledon, was described today by many writers as "emotional" because she cried after she won her first round. The fact is that Williams is just about always emotional, but we don't generally see tears from her, and "emotional" seems to be the current definition for "crying" (Marat Safin, who holds the record for wildly emotional racquet-breaking angry tirades, once described WTA players as "too emotional"). But, perceptions aside, Williams had every reason to be overwhelmed when she defeated Aravane Rezai 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Not that many months ago, she wondered if she would play tennis again.
Williams had to endure a cut tendon in her foot when a drunken football fan threw a bottle in a restaurant. Then she had to endure two surgeries for the injury, a hematoma in her leg, and a pulmonary embolism. "I just wanted to win at least one match here," she said. Williams, who is seeded 7th, hit 13 aces, just like old times, and had first and second serve percentages of 71 and 58.
It was an entertaining match, to be sure. Rezai hit an overhead so hard that Williams fell down trying to get to it. She fell down again when she hit a winning lob over Rezai's head.
As great as it was for Williams to fight hard and win her first round match, it was also refreshing to see Rezai play so well. I have a bit of a soft spot for the Frenchwoman, who--like the hummingbird who shouldn't be able to fly--can buzz down a hawk when she's on. Rezai took some time off (no need to go into that here, but it's well known that disturbed fathers haunt the WTA), and has had a difficult time attempting to return to her former status. However, despite today's loss to one of the best grass players around, Rezai really did look a lot more like herself. Like Williams, the Frenchwoman brings excitement to tennis, and I saw this match as representing her potential return, too.