Reporter Bill Simons’ interview with the tennis star on Saturday, June 2, turned awkward when he told her, “I know you want to get to [daughter] Olympia, work with me here, please.” (She and husband Alexis Ohanian welcomed their first child in September 2017.)
Williams, 36, replied with a smile: “Work with me.”
The Inside Tennis journalist then said to the athlete, “We’re in this together, baby.”
“No, we’re not,” she retorted. “You’re not going home to a screaming baby.”
Simons ultimately asked Williams a question that some deemed sexist: “I have been waiting about 14 years to ask you this question. After the 2004 Wimbledon match with Maria, I had the opportunity to interview Donald Trump on his L.A. golf course, and he said that Maria’s shoulders were incredibly alluring and then he came up with this incredible analysis: That you were intimidated by her supermodel good looks. My question is: Have you ever been intimidated by anyone on a tennis court, and what are your thoughts about that occurrence?”
The 23-time Grand Slam champion was unshaken and resolute in her response. “I honestly don’t have any thoughts about that,” she told Simons. “I can’t say I have been intimidated by anyone. That’s all. That’s it.” The reporter apologized on Twitter on Sunday, June 3, after backlash ensued.
“I apologize if my awkward ques seemed 2 empower Trump or attack Serena/I SO admire her,” Simons tweeted. “I’ve spent lifetime fighting racism/sexism/homophobia.Started campaign 2 name US Open Stad 4 Ashe/Lobbied long 2 get Serena 2 return to I. Wells/Called out police violence vs Blake/I’m so sorry.”
Williams was set to take on Sharapova, 31, in the French Open, but a pectoral injury forced her to withdraw from the match earlier this week. “I unfortunately have been having some issues with my pec muscle, and unfortunately it’s been getting worse to the point where right now I can’t actually serve,” the Olympic gold medalist said during a news conference on Monday, June 4. “It’s kind of hard to play when I can’t physically serve.”