Serena Williams has revealed the very personal reason for her worst ever professional defeat.
At the time, Williams’ explanation for her 6-1 6-0 loss to Sydney-born Johanna Konta in the first round of the Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose on July 31 wasn’t really questioned.
“I have so many things on my mind, I don’t have time to be shocked about a loss,” said Williams, who was still early in her comeback after giving birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian in September 2017.
The first time in her career the former world number one had lost less than two games in a match, it was a dramatic turnaround in form from two weeks earlier when she made the Wimbledon singles final.
Now Williams, 36, has explained the heartbreaking distraction behind the shock defeat, in a new tell-all with Time magazine.
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Ten minutes before she hit the court to take on world number 39 Konta, Williams learned while scrolling through Instagram that her sister’s killer had been paroled.
“I couldn’t shake it out of my mind,” she told Time.
“It was hard because all I think about is her kids, and what they meant to me. And how much I love them.”
Gang member Robert Edward Maxfield, who had been convicted of shooting and killing Williams’ sister Yetunde Price in 2003 had been released from jail three years early.
Ms Price was 31 years old when she died in a drive-by shooting in Compton, California. Her children Jeffrey, Justus and Jair were 11, nine and five years old at the time.
In 2006, Maxfield was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He served 12 years.
‘‘No matter what, my sister is not coming back for good behaviour,” said Williams.
She added she is trying to learn to forgive her sister’s killer, she said: ‘‘The Bible talks about forgiveness. I would like to practise what I preach and teach Olympia that as well.’
“I want to forgive. I have to forgive. I’ll get there.”
In the wide-ranging interview, Williams – who posted a video clip on August 13 of her daughter toddling along – also revealed that her coach Patrick Mouratoglou told her to give up breastfeeding.
He said it would improve her tennis.
“It’s absolutely hard to take from a guy,” she said.
“He’s not a woman, he doesn’t understand that connection, that the best time of the day for me was when I tried to feed her.
“I’ve spent my whole life making everyone happy, just servicing it seems like everyone. And this is something I wanted to do,” Williams explained.
‘‘You have the power to sustain the life that God gave her. You have the power to make her happy, to calm her. At any other time in your life, you don’t have this magical superpower.’’
Williams breastfed her daughter for eight months.
She also revealed she “hated” that she “fell victim” to social media pressure to regain her figure after giving birth.
The star admitted to using a waist trainer to make her stomach look smaller when she posted a post-pregnancy photo on Instagram.