(Evert now says Serena is the best of all time.) Hell, even dating Brett Ratner couldn't stop her. Serena and Venus Williams share a house in a gated community in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where the rest of the residents have been enjoying the early-bird specials for years. On a misty March morning, Serena answers the door in sweats and a T-shirt, her long hair flowing in about seven directions."Come on in," she says, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
Neither could older sister Venus, merely the second-best tennis player of the past 20 years. Serena only compromises with herself."I've thought it would be cool to have a baby young," says Serena. "I've got to practice, ugh." Then her face brightens. I'm getting them done in colors that change with my mood.
He's handsome in that dark-haired Frenchman kind of way.
He says nothing but carries a bag full of racquets.
"You know, be my road dog – like my dogs, they travel the world – but there's always something you have to give up for success. Now, that I'm looking forward to."She turns around and sarcastically sings a few bars of "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" in a not-bad voice.
The sisters have lived here for a decade, but the house still has a transient, hedge-funder's second-home feel.
But the action takes place in the kitchen, where a cook hands Serena a green potion.
She drinks it reluctantly."I had chicken and waffles the other day, so I've got to make up for it," she says.
This is a woman who one minute is reading inspirational notes during changeovers and then, in the 2009 U. Open semifinals, threatening to personally make a line judge eat a tennis ball.
Amazon boxes and dozens of shoes sit stacked in the foyer next to a giant painting of Venus.
(She's not around.) There's a sparkly chandelier and a massive antique mirror leaning against the wall.
Maria Sharapova is the number-two tennis player in the world. Nine years ago Matchbox Twenty and John Edwards mattered.
She runs women's tennis like Kim Jong-un runs North Korea: ruthlessly, with spare moments of comedy, indolence and the occasional appearance of a split personality. Serena is the number-one tennis player in the world.
Serena has been giving tennis the two-finger salute for more than half her life. "Lots of my friends have been telling me lately that I'm spoiled," Serena says with a baffled look on her face. I'm not spoiled.'"I almost spit Coke through my nose. If she'd pulled a Jamesian I'm-taking-my-talents-to-South Beach event, she would have put it on pay-per-view and hawked her Home Shopping Network-all-under-a-hundred-bucks fashion line during the commercial breaks.