DANVERS — How often is it that a Wimbledon champ visits the North Shore?
Here's a better one: how often is it that a Wimbledon champ visits the North Shore just five days after winning the title at Centre Court at the All England Club?
The rare occurrence took place yesterday as 27-year-old Serena Williams came to Ferncroft Country Club in Middleton with her team the Washington Kastles to take on the Boston Lobsters last night in World Team Tennis (WTT) action. Williams, who made her only appearance of the summer to Ferncroft, is undoubtedly the top star attraction of the league. Last Sunday, tennis fans watched her capture her 22nd Grand Slam title (11 singles, 9 doubles, 2 mixed doubles) with a victory over her sister Venus (7-6, 6-2).
Arguably the most famous current female athlete in the United States, Williams is ranked No. 2 in singles, is also the reigning Australian Open and U.S. Open champ and is the all-time female athlete prize money leader with over $25,000,000.
Her whirlwind tour since the Wimbledon victory included a visit to the David Letterman Show on Monday night. Now it's led her to the North Shore.
"It's been nonstop," said Williams, during a pre-match press conference yesterday at the Sheraton Ferncroft in Danvers. "I've been doing a lot of stuff. I haven't had too much time to think and take a day off. But I think it's good that way."
The Boston area certainly has become accustomed lately to champions thanks to the recent titles of the Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots. In fact, in the last couple of years it almost seems like there is a direct path from winning Wimbledon to appearing in Danvers to play in the WTT. Last summer Wimbledon champ Venus Williams played at Ferncroft against the Lobsters, and Serena was happy to join the party this summer.
"It's great to be able to play in front of fans in Boston," said Williams. "I have played up here before but it was a while ago in a different venue. One thing I love about team tennis is the fact that we get to travel to a lot of cities that don't always hold big events. It's really exciting for me to be here."
Compared to the 15,000 seats and retractable roof at Wimbledon's Centre Court, the cozy Ferncroft Country Club almost seems like a classroom. But it makes for quite a treat for tennis fans to watch the most dominant female tennis player in the world up close in personal.
"I come here and I look at the stadium and see how warm and intimate it is," said Williams. "It feels good because it's so small and your fans are really close to you. It's awesome, I love it."
The Michigan native, who spent part of her childhood in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton and now resides in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., has made a name for herself outside of tennis, which has spread her star power outside of the sporting world. Williams has her own designer clothing line and has appeared on several television programs.
"I think a legacy is not what you do on the court, but how you live your life and what you do off the court," said Williams. "I love to do a lot of different things and that's always been what I've done. I'm not just a one-track mind person."
Beginning on August 31, Williams will be looking for the title at the U.S. Open in her quest to rack up another Grand Slam and keep pace with all-time greats Billie Jean King (39 Grand Slams) and Martina Navratilova (59 Grand Slams). Much of her conditioning for the U.S. Open will take place in the WTT, which Williams is not taking lightly.
"The level of tennis is very intense," said Williams. "Last year I was more nervous playing team tennis than I was at Wimbledon. You're not just playing for yourself, you're playing for your teammates. It's not the easiest thing, so we'll see how it goes."