Rio de Janeiro: Serena Williams insisted Wednesday that retirement is not on her agenda as the 34-year-old American superstar targets a sixth Olympic gold medal.
World number one Williams arrives in Rio with a seventh Wimbledon title wrapped up, which allowed her to pull level with Steffi Graf’s Open era record of 22 majors.
But even if she secures a second successive Olympics singles gold and fourth in doubles with sister Venus, she still has no intention of hanging up her racquet.
“I love what I do every day and enjoy being on the court. I enjoy competing,” said Williams, whose career is comfortably into its third decade.
“I just don’t see a time when I say I don’t want to do this anymore. I always give my maximum and that’s what I bring to the court.”
Williams won her first Olympic singles gold in London four years ago and then doubled up with Venus.
The sisters had also won doubles gold in Sydney in 2000 and Beijing eight years later.
The only blot on her Games record was having to miss the 2004 Olympics in Athens with a left knee injury.
Williams said she still remembers her maiden gold medal alongside her older sister in 2000 when she was just 18.
“We all dream of the Grand Slams and winning them, but the Olympics are different,” added Williams who will be top seed in Thursday’s draw for Rio.
“The first gold medal I won was something I appreciated more than a lot of my trophies.
“It’s really great to have another opportunity to win the title. Having won it already definitely takes the pressure off.”
Wanted to be here
The Olympic tennis tournament which starts Saturday has been hit by a number of high-profile pull-outs.
Five of the top 10 in the men’s rankings, including Roger Federer, as well as leading women’s stars such as Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep and Belinda Bencic, are missing.
Also out are Williams’ fellow Americans John Isner and Sam Querrey as well as defending men’s doubles champions Mike and Bob Bryan.
However, 36-year-old Venus said missing the Olympics was never an option.
“We felt we couldn’t say no — we wanted to be here,” she said.
Both Serena and Venus fielded questions over the current inflammatory political climate in the United States.
Serena took an indirect swipe at US presidential candidate Donald Trump who has fuelled controversy with comments on Muslims, Mexicans and military veterans.
“I don’t involve myself in politics but it’s important for me to pass a message of love and unity across all nations,” said Serena.
“Being an African-American, I am sensitive to these things. We should pass a message of love.”
Venus, meanwhile, opted not to comment on the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States.
“We are focussing on medalling in Brazil not on movements in the United States,” said the veteran.
“We are focussed on the world community and if that means positivity in the United States then we are all for it.”