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Serena Williams: ‘I always play everyone at their greatest, so I have to be greater’

Serena Williams is the best. And she knows it.

Day Five: The Championships - Wimbledon 2018 Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Serena Williams is so great that she forces everyone playing her to reach new levels of greatness just to compete with her. It’s something that most tennis fans have already considered, but Williams was asked about this factor during Wimbledon and gave an awesomely frank answer.

Quoting fellow player Madison Keys, Telegraph writer Jamie Johnson noted she said that it “must be really difficult being Serena Williams because everyone ups their game every time they have to play her.”

“What do you think, I mean you have to deal with that every single time you go no court knowing you are No. 1, you’re the one to beat,” Johnson asked. “Have you just got used to it by now?”

You can hear Serena’s answer in her own words below, or you can read it. Either way, it’s pretty badass.

“Um, I’m glad someone admitted that. Of course Madison does, she’s just so smart and so on it. Every single match I play, whether I’m coming back from a baby or surgery, it doesn’t matter. These young ladies, they bring a game I’ve never seen before. And it’s interesting because I don’t even scout as much because when I watch them play, it’s a totally different game than when they play me.

“That’s what makes me great. I always play everyone at their greatest. So I have to be greater.”

Williams knows she’s elevated the game, and by doing so, elevates the game of those around her.

“She said it must suck to be you,” Johnson said, again referencing something Keys said.

“At first it did, but I like it because it kind of backfires because everyone comes out and they play me so hard and now my level is so much higher because of it. From years and years of being played like that. So it’s like, you know what, my level, if it wasn’t high, then I wouldn’t be who I am. So I had to raise my level to ‘unknown’ because [it forces them into] playing me at a level that’s unknown ... so now I’m used to it.”

The greatest tennis player on the face of the planet faces a new, unexpected challenge every time she faces somebody because they play her so much harder than they play everyone else. And she’s used to it!

Williams is set to play the unseeded Evgeniya Rodina in the Round of 16 on Monday.