Serena Williams admitted Thursday that trying to eat vegan like her sister, Venus, is nearly impossible as she returns for the second time back at the Indian Wells Masters after boycotting the tournament for 14 years.
Williams had skipped the venue since a 2001 incident in which she was booed during a match, in what her camp called a racial incident. Now, she is leading big sister Venus back to the highly rated desert tournament.
The younger Williams noted that she lacks the willpower and determination - so far - to follow Venus's lead in dietary choices.
"I wanted to go vegan for a minute - but I couldn't quite give up the chicken," Serena admitted prior to starting in the second round Friday night at the Tennis Garden.
"Somehow it crept back into my life. But I don't eat red meat and a lot of other stuff. I'm educating myself through Venus."
The elder Williams has been on a special diet for several years after contracting Sjoegren's syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder that causes fatigue and joint pain and requires a strict diet.
Serena said that her one foray into a vegan lifestyle paid a quick dividend three years ago, when she won the French Open for the first time in 11 years: "I don't now why I don't do this more often."
Williams said that WTA rival Maria Sharapova's revelation this week that she had failed a doping test at the Australian Open should not taint all of tennis.
"It's disappointing, but it doesn't reflect on everyone. It's important to look at the bigger picture. There are all of these amazing players - men and women - that make up this wonderful sport," Williams said.
"The majority of players compete with integrity, want to be the best that they can. It's like in the world: People do a lot of things, but that doesn't make the world a bad place."
Williams, who has not played since losing two months ago in the Australian Open semi-finals, said she comes to the first Masters 1000 event of the season "a bit nervous."
"It's always like that coming into a tournament, but it will be all right, hopefully," she said.
On court in the first round, unseeded players aimed for the second round, with all seeds given byes.
Former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard started with a comeback win over Risa Ozaki of Japan 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 as the Canadian followed up on her Kuala Lumpur final this month. Magdalena Rybarikova beat Laura Robson 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 as Britain's long-term wrist injury victim played only her fifth WTA-level match since the start of 2014, with her 551 ranking showing she has some way to go.
Russian Darya Kasatkina knocked out Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 6-4, while Camile Giorgi of Italy defeated German Julia Goerges 6-3, 6-2.
Tsvetana Pironkova stopped Croatian Donna Vekic 6-2, 7-5 while Americans Christina McHale, Shelby Rogers and Madison Brengle all advanced to the second round.
In men's ATP play, there was an opening win for Croatian teenaged talent Borna Coric, beating Frenchman Lucas Pouille 6-2, 7-5. Ryan Harrison of the US beat Serb Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) and Rajeev Ram beat Noah Rubin 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-2).
Wednesday, March 23, 2016 - 22:29
Saturday, March 26, 2016 - 03:20