at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Grumpy Serena Williams pleaded for her Wimbledon media session to be cut short after growing frustrated with the line of questioning.
Five-time Wimbledon champion Serena should have been in buoyant mood after taking just 49 minutes to sweep into the third round with a 6-1, 6-1 thrashing of South Africa's Chanelle Scheepers.
But the 32-year-old American appeared slightly irritable from the moment she arrived to meet the world's press following her victory on Court One.
After responding in subdued manner to enquires about her performance, Williams was then quizzed on a variety of non-match related subjects including her friendship with fellow women's player Caroline Wozniacki, whether she would like to play mixed doubles with Rafael Nadal, if tennis should be played without umpires and the United States' prospects at the World Cup.
It was the question about Wozniacki, the Dane who spent time with Williams in Miami following her recent split with golfer Rory McIlroy, that proved the final straw.
“Well, I'm just glad I'm not in that position where I have to address questions about my personal life. I've been known to deny a lot of things, so...” Serena said.
“I'm really losing focus up here. I'm trying to figure out when this is going to end. What's the next question?”
When the next question focused on whether she agreed with Novak Djokovic that tennis lacks charismatic personalties, Serena finally cracked.
“I just think the longer these interviews go...I mean, maybe that's why at Wimbledon they have them long, because you get to see more of a person's personality, like the realness start creeping in,” she said.
“I don't know. Yeah, this is getting...I can't answer that question. See, the questions change from tennis to Novak and then Rafa.
“It's no longer about the match. Is this the last question?”
Another reporter told Serena she hadn't yet been asked about basketball superstar LeBron James, the Miami Heat star whose unsettled future with the team has prompted eager American journalists to seek the views of tennis players throughout the tournament.
“LeBron. Good Lord,” Serena said with a sigh.
After hiding her face for several seconds, Serena looked at the Wimbledon official acting as the press conference moderator in hope that he would call a halt.
The moderator asked; “Any other tennis questions?”, to which Serena quickly responded; “Non-personality questions, please,” before dissolving into a fit of giggles.
When she realised her wish would be granted as there were no further questions, she said thank you and rose to leave.
Serena's bizarre behaviour overshadowed the impressive nature of her victory against Scheepers, which set up a last 32 meeting with French 25th seed Alize Cornet.
Williams, a 17-time Grand Slam champion, overwhelmed Scheepers with 26 winners, compared to five from the world number 94, and eight aces.
Before she went into meltdown in the press conference, Serena had revealed she feels more comfortable at Wimbledon this year following her surprise fourth round defeat last year against Sabine Lisicki, a loss that came during sister Venus's absence due to illness and injury.
“It's good. It's like it's back to where it should be. We're both here,” she said.
“We're both playing opposite days. It just feels really good to have someone that you're really close to, that knows what you're going through.”
Ominously for her next opponent Cornet, Williams claimed she is still some way short of her best despite breezing through the first two rounds in a combined one hour and 50 minutes.
“I feel okay. You know, I don't want to feel great necessarily right now because hopefully I have several more matches I can play,” she added.
“The goal for me is just to feel a little better every day.
“I feel there's some things I still want to work on to hopefully stay in the tournament.” – AFP