U.S. Open: Serena Williams' foot isn't here. Or is it?
Top-ranked Serena Williams, who has won two of the three major tournaments already played this season, isn't in this draw, though she would have been the top-seeded player and heavy favorite at the U.S. Open, which is in Day 2.
Her health has been a mystery ever since she reportedly suffered some sort of accident in a German restaurant or bar (in Munich, maybe, on the day Germany was eliminated from the World Cup) right before she went to play an exhibition match against Kim Clijsters. Clijsters had beaten Williams in the Open semifinals last year in a match that ended famously with Williams losing her temper and her composure and ultimately being defaulted from the match and eventually being fined for $90,000. Williams played the exhibition, though by all accounts she didn't move well. Then she came home to the United States.
Williams has released no information other than that her foot was cut and she needed surgery. Was the surgery on the foot? Even that hasn't been clear.
Williams was spotted periodically this summer after the surgery wearing a walking boot (at the Farmers Classic men's tournament in Los Angeles, for example, and at a Nike event in New York last week (where she was described alternately as walking well sometimes and with a limp sometimes). Before the surgery, she was spotted wearing stiletto heels (on the red carpet at the ESPY Awards at Staples Center) and at a pre-ESPY party at her Los Angeles house, where all that could be seen was a small bandage.
The coach of a top-ranked women's player in New York, who was adamant that the comment not be attributed to him because he's not comfortable speaking about another player's injury status, said his client got a show-and-tell from Serena on the foot last week at the Nike event. "My player said Serena almost cut her big toe off. It was really, really bad," the coach said.
Clijsters said Monday she had also seen Serena's feet in Belgium and that both of them were cut, though she couldn't say whether the cuts were on the top or the bottom of her feet or both.
Whatever the state of Serena's foot, or feet, is, there's no doubt. Their spirit is here at the National Tennis Center. Everybody wants to see Serena's feet.
-- Diane Pucin
Photo: Serena Williams. Credit: Jason Kempin / Getty Images