'It's weird': Serena Williams speaks out amid French Open furore

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Serena Williams, pictured here speaksing to the media ahead of the French Open.
Serena Williams speaks to the media ahead of the French Open. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Serena Williams has spoken out after being denied a controversial request to stay in her Paris apartment rather than the designated hotels at the French Open.

As part of COVID-19 protocols, French Open organisers have told all participants they must stay in two designated hotels, unlike the US Open where they were allowed to stay in private accommodation.

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Williams was one of the players who rented a private home for the tournament at Flushing Meadows, and also asked to do the same for Roland Garros.

However tournament organisers put their foot down and refused to allow special treatment for anyone.

Addressing the decision on Saturday, Williams said she finds it “weird” having to stay in a hotel but the American is keeping a positive attitude as she continues her chase of a record-equalling 24th grand slam title.

“It’s definitely weird. This has always been my home away from home. I always loved being here,” Williams told reporters on Saturday.

“It has been really different for me staying at a hotel when I'm like, ‘Oh, this is what we normally do’. I guess it's a must.”

This year's clay-court grand slam was moved back from its regular May-June slot to the end of September due to the pandemic.

The weather during this year's event, therefore, is much cooler.

“I hate the cold. I'm from Los Angeles and I live in Florida. For half my life I've never seen snow. Cold weather and me do not mix. That's my Achilles' heel,” Williams said before breaking into a smile.

“But I'm dealing with it. I'm having a positive attitude about it.”

Serena Williams chasing Margaret Court record

Williams won the last of her 23 grand slam titles in Melbourne in 2017 and has since lost in four finals in her bid to equal Australian Margaret Court's record of 24 major singles titles.

She lost to Victoria Azarenka in the semi-finals at her home grand slam this month.

“I think a semi-final is always great. Is it great for me? Absolutely not,” said Williams, adding that she was not 100 per cent physically but had recovered sufficiently from an Achilles problem she suffered during the US Open.

“That's just how I feel. That's how I always feel. It is what it is.

“I'm happy that I can feel that way. I'm in a position in my career where I cannot be satisfied. I don't want to sit here and say, 'Oh, I'm happy'. Because I'm not.”

Serena Williams, pictured here preparing for the French Open.
Serena Williams trains on Court Philippe-Chatrier in preparation for the French Open. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Williams, who took a break in 2017 to give birth to her daughter, has not played any competitive matches ahead of the clay-court event at Roland Garros which started on Sunday.

Following the US Open, the American, who turned 39 on Saturday, travelled to her coach’s academy in Nice and concentrated on training and rehabilitation.

“I honestly never thought I would be playing at my age. I mean, I don't quite look 39,” she said, grinning again.

“But yeah I don't know when it's going to stop for me. I just have fun.

“When I feel it's over, it's over. But I could have guaranteed and pretty much bet my life that I would not have been playing at 39.

“I'm in general just a happy, positive person. You just have to be really excited about each moment that life gives you because you don't know if it's going to be your last personally.”

with Reuters

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