This time, even before a ball is hit at the US Open, Serena Williams finds herself in the midst of a controversy.
Claims of favoritism are doing the rounds after US Open tournament director Stacey Allaster stated that the 38-year-old Williams has the surface, which will be used at the major, laid out in her backyard. The US Open has switched from DecoTurf to Laykold for the first time since 1978.
“I can confirm the surface provided by Laykold for the 2020 US Open and Western & Southern Open was shipped to Serena’s house,” Allaster said. “She’s got a new court in her backyard. So she has been training. She will be playing (in the tournament) and she’s excited to come back.”
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Williams was the biggest player to come out in support when it was announced that the US Open will go ahead this year despite host city New York reeling from the pandemic.
Social media conspiracy theorists believe the US Open is giving Williams, who is chasing the elusive 24th Grand Slam title, an unfair ‘home’ advantage.
But doubles legend and tennis commentator Todd Woodbridge quashed the favoritism claims.
“The twitter world has made a big uproar about that,” he said in a video interview on Today.
“I can go to when Pat Cash who was playing the Australian Open on Rebound Ace, his trainer had a court in her backyard and only Pat and Stefan Edberg used to hit there,” said Woodbridge.
“As a member at Wimbledon I could go and practice there before the tournament when no other players could do that. It’s just one of the benefits of having been a good player.”
Moreover, he said, “The US Open surface anyway is a generic surface that anybody can have at their club or in their backyard.”
Is it just another storm in the Twitter cup?