Serena Williams hails Tiger Woods’ influence as she continues her US Open run
Tiger Woods, left, and Serena Williams play an exhibition match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the Miami suburb of Indian Creek, Fla., Saturday, June 23, 2016. At left, Woods and Williams play a practice match. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Serena Williams says she was once a skeptic of Tiger Woods.
“People would say, ‘Oh, he’s good,’ but he’s not good enough to win a tournament,” she said.
At 5-foot-9, Williams, 30, who shot a career-best 62 to win her first Open Championship at Flushing Meadows in Queens, was a little too short for Woods to handle when the two made their first competitive encounter in 1997.
“He hits the ball really far and hard, so it was hard to hit back and forth with him,” she said. “I had a hard time with my short strokes. I’m sure he didn’t know how to play short, to be honest. I actually had a hard time trying to hit with him because he hit really hard.”
“He’s a very powerful individual,” she continued. “He’s a strong man. He’s not weak at all. He’s strong, but he’s not strong enough. He’s not strong enough to win. He’s a very strong player. But I think a lot of people underestimate him.”
The two became friends and played together throughout their careers. Although Williams said she was initially a skeptic of Woods, the two became fast friends and golf buds.
“He’s a phenomenal athlete,” she said. “He’s been a great champion. When we played together, his ball striking was very good, but his ball striking is better than me — obviously because of my