QUOTEBOOK – Plus a Look at ‘Being Serena’



“I started trying to get my volleys over the net.” – Ryan Harrison on his mid-match adjustment at the Davis Cup

”It’s a tool that helps, but it doesn’t play for you.” – Novak Djokovic on his racket

“A tennis ball doesn’t care what your ranking is.” – Jim Courier after his US Davis Cup team prevailed over the Belgian team which featured little-known players

“This is the best moment of my career.” – John Isner after winning Miami

”Maybe you can tell [me] what it’s like winning here because I’ve never experienced it.” – Sascha Zverev to Isner

“She’s back.” – Pat McEnroe after Sloane Stephens, who had struggled mightily since winning the US Open, won the Miami Open

“You guys suck sometimes, but you make me a better player. So I really appreciate you guys.” – Sloane Stephens to her courtside coaches after her Miami win

“The first time I saw Venus in the locker room, I almost cried.” – Danielle Collins

“There are less than ten women coaches in the game. We have to change this.” – Mary Carillo

“Davis Cup is about representing [your country], it’s about showing up and passion and execution.” – Jim Courier

“If you guys don’t have anything going for you in September, come to Europe, We’ll take you.” – Ryan Harrison encouraging fans to come to the Davis Cup semis in Croatia


“For so many years I defined myself in just one way – by success, by championships, by making history,” Serena says at the beginning of the new HBO series “Being Serena.” “And then all of the sudden my life changed forever. It wasn’t part of any plan to have this happen. Not while I was still on top. But two years ago I met this man [Alexis Ohanian], almost out of nowhere, we fell in love, and then this unthinkable surprise [the birth of her daughter Alexis]. I can’t believe how much went wrong on my way to meeting her. I almost died. But now, she’s the reason why all this means even more than it did before. Still, there’s no escaping the fear. The fear that I might not come back as strong as I was. The fear that I can’t be both the best mother and the best tennis player in the world. I guess my only chance is to live and find out.”

In “Being Serena,” Serena’s inner circle is good-natured self-described “nerd” Ohanian, agent Jill Smoller (who told Serena to “drop the mic” upon winning last year’s Australian Open, and who’s present at the hospital at the start of her childbirth), sister Isha and the ever-droll Oracene, who assures her that giving birth is a little more painful than having cramps. “It’s the blind leading the blind,” Serena jokes to Ohanaian after they debate what makes a swaddle. Swathed in inspirational music, episode one has a brief flashback to Serena’s Compton childhood, but its chief subject is Serena’s pregnancy, with the episode coming to a close right before her C-section. Serena tells us that, “Fear has always been valuable in my life. Without fear, without doubt, without discomfort…what is there for any of us to overcome…The fear of failing, it’s always right there.”

As the French Open approaches, that fear looms anew over Serena’s career. The jury is out on whether she can be both the best mother and the best tennis player in the world. Her results since returning to the court at Indian Wells have been meager. Will she once again be able to write her own story? Or will the rest of the tour write it for her? It should be revealing.

Katie Barnes observed that Serena’s comeback is “an act of vulnerability…She’s done everything that she set out to do and then some. Now she wants to prove that she can be the best player in the world after having a baby. She doesn’t need to prove that…But I appreciate that she didn’t want having a baby to be the end of her career…as we’ve seen with so many mom athletes…The fact that she came back, when her body isn’t 100 percent and she might not be 100 percent mentally, and she is struggling publicly…is risky and courageous in a way that I don’t know we’ve seen from an athlete of her stature.”


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