Curtsying at Wimbledon had always been one of Serena Williams’ dreams and the top women’s player is not hiding her disappointment that the tradition has come to an end.
The 21-year-old, who today continued her chase for a second consecutive title at the French Open by thrashing Austria’s Barbara Schett 6-0 6-0 in the third round, admitted at a press conference that she believed it was a pity curtsying was now abolished at Wimbledon.
She said: “I am disappointed. When I was younger I always looked forward to having a chance to curtsy.
“It was just a dream. But when I first did it I was so excited.”
Williams is the defending champion at Wimbledon.
“I am glad I had my chance to do it,” she added. “I feel honoured to be going down in history as the last woman champion to curtsy.”
Williams showed another dimension of her talent and overwhelming dominance of women’s tennis as she needed only 40 minutes to oust Schett.
In three matches so far she has only spent two hours and 39 minutes on court.
But she insists it was not as straightforward as it seemed against Schett.
“It was not as easy as I thought it would be because I had to concentrate on every single point,” she said.
“I really want to be a success here, that is why I have to be extremely concentrated, this is one of the main keys.
“What I managed to do best today is to be mentally at the top.”
Williams will next face 16th seed Ai Sugiyama from Japan, who ousted USA’s Meghann Shaughnessy 6-1 6-4.
Williams added: “She is very tough, she played well this year, and I will have to be at least at the same level as today and above all as concentrated as today if I want to beat her.
“I will have to be careful with my speed, make sure that I am moving constantly, it is capital on clay.”
Fourth seed Justine Henin-Hardenne also easily qualified for the last eight with a 6-1 6-1 win over Magagascar’s Dally Randiantefy in just 50 minutes.
The victor said: “My match today was of a better quality than the one in the second round, I am getting better and better.
“I am really happy to have won fast today because with the heat it’s important to save my energy even if I felt ready physically to stay longer on court.”
Henin-Hardenne will next face Patty Schneider on Sunday, which will also be her 21st birthday.
“I won’t think about it too much, this is not an obsession for me,” she added.
“The most important thing is to clear the next hurdle, but I must admit that it would be great to celebrate both my birthday and my victory on Sunday night.”
Fifth seed and home favourite Amelie Mauresmo is trying to take her next match as calmly as she can – even if it will be a must-win for her to reach Roland Garros’ quarter-finals for the first time in her career.
The 23-year-old Frenchwoman defeated Colombian Fabiola Zuluaga 6-3 6-4 on the Suzanne Lenglen court this afternoon.
She has so far performed strongly in the tournament, which makes her one of the most serious contenders to win the title – in French eyes anyway.
She will face the winner of the clash between Spain’s Magui Serna and rising American star Ashley Harkleroad on Sunday and tried to play down the mounting pressure.
“I want to take it match by match and not think too much about the stakes,” said Mauresmo, who could face Serena Williams in the quarters should she win her next match.
“All I know is that I am more solid, more confident about myself and more certain about what I am doing at the moment.”