Serena Williams Says She Has 'Nothing To Lose' At Wimbledon

LONDON -- Given her penchant for thriving in high-pressure matches, Serena Williams' response Saturday when asked how her relatively early-round exits here the past two years would affect her may surprise people.

Williams, the five-time Wimbledon champ who lost in the third round last year and the fourth round the year before, admitted the premature losses make her more motivated. "But I think that also gives me a little less pressure because I haven't done well here in the past two years. It makes me feel like, 'OK, I'll be fine. I have nothing to lose here. I don't have many points to defend here.' So it's just like trying to have fun, go through it."

Williams will be joined by 11 other American women in the top half of the draw, and in the first round she'll face 20-year-old Russian Margarita Gasparyan, who is playing in her second career main draw of a Grand Slam tournament after losing in the first round of the French Open this year.

Williams, 33, is going for her 21st Grand Slam title and her fourth in a row. Also on the line for the 2015 Australian and French Open champion is keeping alive hope for the first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf did it in 1988.

But Williams still managed to draw a comparison between herself and Gasparyan.

"It definitely is not easy," Williams said of Gasparyan's task. "But it's not easy for me, either, when you go up against a player that you don't really know.

"For me, when you play the No. 1 player, it's like, 'This is great, I have an opportunity to do well.' You have nothing to lose really.

"And again, for me, being that I haven't done really well in the last few years, I feel like I have nothing to lose, either. So it's a good opportunity, I think, for the both of us."

Williams has never before come into Wimbledon going for three straight majors.

"Personally, it doesn't make it feel any different, which is a good thing because I don't feel any pressure to win all four," she said. "Maybe if I would happen to win here, then maybe I might start feeling it after that. Ultimately, I'm taking it one day at a time and I'm not thinking that far."

Williams wasn't the only one addressing the media on Saturday at Wimbledon. Here are some other highlights.

Maria Sharapova

Like Williams, Maria Sharapova, the fourth seed here, had some health issues at the French Open, losing to 13th-seeded Lucie Safarova in the fourth round, her earliest exit there since a third-round departure in 2010.

Afterward, she told media members she went to California to "run some tests." Was that an indication of something more serious than a bad cold or flu?

"It took a little while for me to really refresh and recover and, yeah, give myself just a chance to feel good again and get back to work," she said.

But that was as much as she would reveal.

"It's not something that I like to talk about because I never like to set up an excuse for anything that I do," Sharapova said. "I was going through it and I was trying to kind of battle every symptom that I had for a week or so during the French Open, and a few days before. Once I got healthy and kind of got the green light to just start training, that was my goal.

"It was great to be able to be on the court and not have to cough or blow my nose a hundred times and all those things. It's kind of annoying when you're just trying to become a great tennis player."

Simona Halep

Simona Halep, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year after reaching the finals of the 2014 French Open, comes in this year after a disappointing clay-court season and a second-round exit at Roland Garros.

Halep said she took some time off after the French and relaxed with family and friends, at one point not playing tennis for five days.

"I took the pressure off of my head," said Halep, seeded third here. "I just said that I have to enjoy again, just to work hard every day. So I started to work harder more. Now I feel pretty confident that I can play good tennis again."

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