Serena Williams ready to defend Wimbledon title

Published June 21, 2010

WIMBLEDON, England – Serena Williams attended a Green Day concert over the weekend and worked on her curtsy.

That's her way of getting ready for Wimbledon.

Tennis traditionalists have long derided the Williams sisters' unorthodox preparation for Grand Slam events, but hey, it works. At Wimbledon, Serena and Venus have combined to win eight of the past 10 titles, and they're seeded 1-2 in the tournament beginning Monday.

Serena tweaked her practice regimen by polishing her curtsy in anticipation of a visit Thursday from Queen Elizabeth II. With Green Day in town for a concert Saturday night at Wembley Stadium, she — Serena, not the monarch — also made time to take in the show.

It was like a workout, Serena joked.

"Did a little cardio there, jumping around a little bit," she said. "It was amazing. Everyone knows I'm a massive Green Day fan. They were so close; no chance I could have missed it."

Williams has time to catch her breath before her opening match Tuesday as defending champion against Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal. Venus was to play Monday against Rossana de los Rios of Paraguay.

As in the past, the sisters skipped the grass-court warmup tournaments and haven't played since the French Open. They took the same approach last year, and it worked: Serena won her third Wimbledon title by beating Venus in the final.

Serena shrugs off the pressure of high expectations, saying Wimbledon's like playing at the Greensboro Open.

"I approach every match the same, really, whether I'm here or at a tournament in North Carolina or South Carolina," she said. "I just kind of look at it all the same. You go here and you do the best that you can and you try to just go for it. ...

"I don't feel pressure. I'm here to win Wimbledon like the other 127 people in the draw. That's kind of how I look at it. Whether I come out with a win or I don't, it's just an opportunity for me to be here."

It could be an opportunity to meet the queen, too. On Thursday, her royal highness is expected to visit Wimbledon for the first time since 1977.

"I found out that she was coming," Serena said. "I thought, 'Wow, this is really, really cool. She hasn't been to this tournament in just forever.' I thought, 'Wow, I just got to make sure I'm here on Thursday.'"

Williams will be scheduled to play Thursday if she wins her opening match. She said her curtsy needs work.

"It's a little extreme," she said. "I have a lot of arm movement. I get really low. So I have to tone it down."

Others scheduled to play their opening matches Tuesday include 2004 champion Maria Sharapova, French Open runner-up Samantha Stosur, 2008 men's champion Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, trying again to become the first British man to win Wimbledon since 1936.

London rock concerts aside, Sharapova said the lead-up to Wimbledon is special.

"The week before, when there's just the players, the groundsmen getting the last bits and pieces out there, knowing that something big is around the corner, you really feel that atmosphere," Sharapova said. "Then you see the dark clouds coming out. You're like, `Yeah, that's coming.'"

Even in bad weather, some tennis will be played because of the 1-year-old retractable roof over Centre Court. That's where Nadal will likely face wild card Kei Nishikori of Japan in the opening round.

It will be Nadal's first match at Wimbledon since he beat Federer in their memorable 2008 final. Last year, the Spaniard withdrew shortly before the tournament because of knee tendinitis.

Nadal is coming off his fifth French Open title and an unbeaten but grueling clay-court season. He celebrated with a brief break a week ago back home in Mallorca.

"I went for a party with the friends," he said. "I played golf. I go to the beach. So I had a perfect Sunday. I need it."

A recharged Nadal might be the biggest threat to top-seeded Roger Federer, who is trying to join Pete Sampras and 19th-century champion Willie Renshaw as the only men to win Wimbledon seven times.

Federer was to play his opening match Monday against Alejandro Falla.

Written by STEVEN WINE, AP Sports Writer

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