Tiger moves Serena

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:32 AM ET

Serena Williams gave a surprising answer when asked what motivates her at this stage of life.

"Tiger Woods motivates me," Williams said yesterday.

"He's what, 27 or 28? And I'm 23. I have seven Grand Slam victories and he has 10. So that motivates me."

Actually, Tiger is 29.

And he's a golfer, not a tennis player.

"I have an unofficial competition with him," Williams said.

Does Tiger know about this?

"No," Williams said with a smile.

"He's ahead of me, but I'm a little younger. I root for him all the time. I love him. I think he's incredible."

Well, Williams won't add to her Grand Slam list this week if she wins the Rogers Cup at the Rexall Centre at York University. But Williams can hone her game for the U.S. Open, which takes place in New York later this month.

Williams is making only her third appearance in Toronto for a pro tennis tournament, and her first since 2001, when she won the event. Her first match this year is scheduled for tonight at 7:30 p.m., against Stephanie Cohen-Aloro of France.

This week, Williams will be getting most of the attention from casual tennis fans in Toronto, since her sister Venus (flu) and current 'It' girl Maria Sharapova (strained right pectoral muscle) pulled out of the Rogers Cup over the past few days.

Serena insisted yesterday that tennis -- Grand Slam events in particular -- still is her top priority. But noticeably, she became most animated when discussing her current TV reality show, which also features Venus.

"Last week it was hilarious, because I actually broke up with someone on the show," Serena said. "Honestly, I thought that was so funny, because here I am in the stands, talking, and it was really very awkward how it went on.

"I forgot the cameras were on me and I was saying, 'I can't do this, I need more time.' It totally was very, very weird. I mean, I realized the cameras were on me, but I just thought they were recording Venus' match, because this all was going on while Venus was playing."

Speaking of playing, Serena hasn't played since Wimbledon, partially because of an ankle injury that subsequently affected her knee, but also because, well, she often takes a lot of time off after Wimbledon. The Williams sisters have been criticized in recent years for being merely part-time athletes, but Serena bristled at that suggestion.

"No, that isn't the case at all," she said.

"I have a great guy who looks over my (fashion) company, so all I do is sketch in my room and send them in, that's it. And as for acting, I haven't gotten any roles lately because I keep turning them down to train and play tournaments."

Williams said she hopes her reality show will make it clear to everyone just how focused she is on tennis. If Serena recognized the potential contradiction in her statement, she failed to indicate as much.

"We do have other interests, and we love each other, yada yada yada," Serena said of herself and her sister. "But at the end of the day, we're really tennis players."

Serena may be a tennis player, but her main rival apparently is a golfer. Even if that golfer is unaware of it.

"I'm a little behind Tiger," Serena said. "I have some catch-up work to do."


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