NEW YORK -- While many of her compatriots were taking part in the Team USA Media Summit on Tuesday in Los Angeles, 21-time Grand Slam champion and four-time Olympic gold medalist Serena Williams was having a little fun of her own on the opposite coast.
The world’s No. 1 women’s tennis player faced close friend and rival Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark at the BNP Paribas Showdown at New York’s Madison Square Garden as part of World Tennis Day’s festivities.
Williams defeated Wozniacki 7-5, 6-4 in a primetime exhibition match, which was preceded by a two-set exhibition victory by France’s Gael Monfils over Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka.
The result reflected their career head-to-head results, as Williams has beaten Wozniacki in 10 of their 11 meetings, and is 2-0 against her in Grand Slam matches.
Although Williams had a historic 2015 highlighted by three Grand Slam victories and is just one Grand Slam singles title shy of Steffi Graf for the most in the Open era, she’s been hindered by injuries and illnesses since last September.
In fact, January’s Australian Open — at which she finished runner-up to Germany’s Angelique Kerber — was the only major tournament she’s played in since then.
She is, however, scheduled to return to competition later this week at Indian Wells in California. The next Grand Slam is the French Open, which begins May 16.
Williams is close friends with Wozniacki, a two-time Grand Slam finalist and Denmark’s flag bearer for the Rio Games, and both players toyed with the crowd’s emotions during the exhibition. Williams also took interview questions from teenage girls on the sidelines between sets. However, a post-event press conference was cancelled and the athletes did not speak with reporters.
The women even came onto the court in their warm-ups two games into the second set of the men’s exhibition match to play a bit of mixed doubles. Williams partnered with Wawrinka and Wozniacki with Monfils, getting the crowd going with an all-star game feel.
To celebrate World Tennis Day, which is recognized March 10, the U.S. Tennis Association is also holding youth and family tennis events throughout the entire month to showcase how fun and easy it is to get into the sport for a lifetime. The USTA is joining forces with facilities and parks across the country to introduce children and their parents to tennis, all while making it simpler than ever to register for their programs.
Stuart Lieberman covered Paralympic sports for three years at the International Paralympic Committee, including at the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.