Tennis star Serena Williams, who defeated Amra Sadikovic of Switzerland in her opening match at Wimbledon on Tuesday, is sad that some athletes are choosing to not compete in the upcoming Rio Olympic Games due to Zika virus concerns.
When Williams was told that world No. 1 golfer Jason Day joined the growing list of professional golfers who will not be competing in the Olympics due to the scare, she was asked whether she was sad so many athletes were backing out of the event. She admitted it was disappointing, but that she understands.
“I do, I think it is sad. But at the same time I obviously understand where they’re coming from and how they feel. Part of me feels that way, too, which is why I’m going in, you know, with a whole mindset of how do I protect myself, how do I prevent and also raise awareness for this. That’s kind of how I’m looking at it.”
Day said he would not attend the Games because of, “… possible transmission of the Zika virus and the potential risks that it might present to my wife’s future pregnancies and to future members of our family.”
“I have always placed my family in front of everything else in my life. Medical experts have confirmed that while perhaps slight, a decision to compete in Rio absolutely comes with health risks to me and my family. My wife Ellie and I have been blessed with two wonderful and healthy children and our plans is to have more. While it has always been a major goal to compete in the Olympics on behalf of my country, playing golf cannot take precedent over the safety of our family. I will not place them at risk.”
Williams’ concern comes in the wake of a slow drip of other players opting to not travel to South America. Golf in particular has seen a lot of people backing out — which marks the first time golf will be played in the Olympics since 1904 — including Rory McIlroy, Vijay Singh, and Graeme McDowell, whose wife is pregnant.
Serena, the world’s No. 1 tennis player and defending champion at this week’s Wimbledon, has won four Olympic gold medals and shared that the experience is hard to match.
“I don’t know if they’re missing out … I mean, everyone’s experience is different. My experience has been really amazing at the Olympics. I really loved going out there and competing, really just, you know, standing out there and being an Olympic athlete.”
Other tennis players opting to skip the Games due to Zika include Dominic Thiem, Fernando Verdasco, Sam Querrey, and American John Isner (although his stated his reasoning was because of scheduling issues).
Williams, who won the 80th Wimbledon match of her career, won her match on Tuesday over 148th-ranked Sadikovic with a little more trouble than she’s come to expect in the first round. After cruising through the first set without too much trouble, Serena couldn’t get into her usual rhythm and gave up four games to Sadikovic before settling in and getting the victory, 6-2, 6-4. She is seeking her 22nd Grand Slam victory, which would tie Steffi Graf for the all-time record.
Williams and Sadikovic had no trouble getting their match in, but multiple matches were postponed or delayed due to rain on Wimbledon’s second day. No. 2 seed Andy Murray was able to finish his match, cruising by unseeded Liam Broady 6-2, 6-3, 6-4. But fifteen matches were adjusted due to weather, including men’s No. 8 seed Dominic Thiem against Florian Mayer, and on the women’s side, No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska against Kozlova Kateryna and No. 7 Belinda Bencic versus Tsvetana Pironkova.
Serena Williams will next face either Christina McHale or Daniela Hantuchova, who play today.
[Photos by AP Images]