Three-time Toronto champ Serena in the house

TORONTO – Serena Williams won the Rogers Cup in Toronto in 2013 (one of 11 titles that year).

She also win it in 2011 (one of just two that year, along with Stanford).

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Williams also won it back in … 2001. Which is crazy. And it wasn’t even her first title; it was her 10th. Even crazier that she made her first Rogers Cup final in 2000 in Montreal. 

Félix Auger-Aliassime was just being born at that time.

She’s back in Toronto this year, for the first time since losing to Belinda Bencic in the semis of the 2015 tournament

But from early returns, it’s pretty hard to get a gauge on where she’s at, and how she’s feeling.

There wasn’t a lot of running during her practice on the stadium court Sunday. But that’s not unusual in the days before a tournament.

But we’ve never seen her stop a practice and get on the phone. The phone was out, as if she were expecting something. And coach Patrick Mouratoglou ran over to get it, and there was some discussion.

First All-Access in awhile

The withdrawal of Petra Kvitova meant that Williams moved up from No. 9 to No. 8 in the seedings.

On the plus side, that meant that she gets a first-round bye, and therefore won’t play until Wednesday. (She will meet the winner between Elise Mertens and Aliaksandra Sasnovich, and finds herself in the same quarter as No. 2 seed Naomi Osaka).

Williams
One of the cool things the Rogers Cup does is put up posters like this around the grounds for the most popular players – to let fans know when they’ll play their matches and promote ticket sales. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

On the other side, that meant that she had a mandatory commitment to do the WTA’s All-Access media availability. That’s generally a requirement of the top eight seeds.

The American was seeded No. 10 in Indian Wells, Rome and Miami. So even though the media no doubt would have wanted to hear from her, she wasn’t required to do it. That was true at the majors as well, although as a defending finalist, she did do press at Wimbledon.

Williams clearly wasn’t particularly in the mood on Sunday. But she went through with it like the professional she is – eyebrows firmly in place, and wearing a neon green pullover whose color look smashing on her.

No. 1 Ashleigh Barty “just chipping away” (video)

She opted for a more formal press-conference type setting, right after her morning practice. The other seeds fulfilled the commitment in a more informal venue, at a table in a corporate lounge a few hours later.

Williams was pretty subdued. Then again, she’s probably a little tired, nearly two years later, of answering questions about how motherhood changed her life. 

 

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