Author: Timothy

Serena Williams’s First Time in the Media Room

Serena Williams's First Time in the Media Room

CNN interviewed Serena Williams when she was 9. Here’s what she said

On the evening of a rain-soaked day in Atlanta in 1996, Serena Williams walked into the media room at the Sheraton Centre in Peachtree Center. She was then a 17-year-old at the academy in New York City. While the room has grown to accommodate some 5,000 media members, including the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Al Gore, Johnnie Cochran, Hillary Clinton and Beyoncé, the room at the Sheraton Centre was so small, Serena’s 6 foot tall mother and father had to make way for her to enter.

The Sheraton Centre is a familiar place for Serena, her parents and their friends; she has been here dozens of times. But this time, Serena couldn’t help but notice something different in the room: It was her first time there as a player on a national stage.

The Sheraton Centre was home to the second- and third-ranked US players at the time, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Andy Roddick. Williams, then a teenager, was seen as the “new star” of the game, and her parents – Bob and Yannick – were trying to figure out how to prepare her for the spotlight.

“Our biggest concern was that Yannick and I had the experience (of putting her) through tournaments and other competitions – so we wanted her to be on top of her competition,” Serena said.

The family also considered the need to play nice with the press and make sure she got as good a “pitch” as possible when she would appear on the tennis circuit.

“When you are a little girl and you are so tall, it’s hard to get it from an adult,” Bob Williams admitted to ESPN. “The biggest thing was being respectful to (the reporters). And just, be nice to them and put them at

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