SERENA Williams said she didn’t expect the warm reception she got from Manila fans when she played on Sunday in International Premier Tennis League (IPTL).
Despite playing as a guest player for the Singapore Slammers in the Manila leg, the world No. 1 drew the loudest cheers from the Filipino crowd in her first and only appearance in the country as early as the warm-ups.
The cheers grew louder when her name was finally called during the pre-game introductions, gladdening Williams.
“The reception was amazing,” said Williams during the postmatch press conference. “Everyone was so nice and I mean just in warm-up, hearing the crowd was spectacular and unexpected. I felt really honored to feel that.”
Williams said she has never been to the Philippines and was surprised to see many tennis fans in the country.
“I’ve never played here. I’ve never been in here. It’s so good to come here to countries like this because you realize we have fans everywhere. You never get to come to places where some of our fans are. You forget that you have fans everywhere. So it really feels good to have this opportunity,” said Williams.
Despite having little knowledge about the Philippines, the American netter distinctly remembered her encounters with a few Filipino athletes during the 2012 London Olympics.
“I don’t know much about (the Philippines). I mingled with a lot of athletes in London from the Philippines. I got a chance to meet some," Williams said. “I never knew I’ll be here so soon.”
Williams lost her first IPTL match for Singapore when her team-up with Lleyton Hewitt dropped a 6-1 defeat to Andy Murray and Kirsten Flipkens on the Manila Mavericks.
But the reigning US Open champion bounced back in the women’s singles, winning an entertaining match with Flipkens, 6-3. Williams was noticeably emotionally immersed in the match, pumping her fist a few times and showing disappointment over her unforced errors.
“The crowd was pumped. I was pumped. We had a good match,” Williams said.
Here's a video of Serena Williams' post-match interview: