"Love me, hate me, just don't ignore me."
I'm not sure if Serena Williams knows that line, but know it or not, she's living it. The 30-year-old superstar, who was bounced in the opening round of the French Open on Tuesday, is rarely at a loss for words and almost always the talk of the tour -- for reasons good and bad.
This week it's the latter.
Tuesday's loss to Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano, ranked No. 111 in the world, has Williams making headlines. The bad kind, the ones that include words like "stumble," "wilt" and "collapse."
After the loss she stayed surprisingly calm, keeping things in perspective.
"Yeah, it is disappointing -- but it's life," she said. "Things could be a lot worse. I haven't had the easiest past six months. Nothing I can't deal with."
After being sidelined because of multiple foot surgeries, a pulmonary embolism and an ankle injury, Williams looked fit and fresh leading up to Paris. She entered the tournament with a 46-0 record in Grand Slam first rounds and was a perfect 17-0 on clay this year. Tuesday's 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 loss to Razzano was nothing short of stunning.
Turns out Williams was correct back in April when she cracked a joke at her own expense.
"I'm always ready to win the French Open and I never do," she said. "Hopefully this will be the 20th year in a row that I'm ready to win."
It's only been a decade since she last won the French, but who can blame her for feeling as though she's been at it twice as long?
Williams' collapse on the court left us wanting more, but the good news is, one of the tour's biggest personalities still managed to provide us with a few lines to add to the "Serena Williams Soundboard." (How is this still not a reality?)
Just like her game, Williams' thoughts can be inconsistent and erratic, but no matter her take, she always states it as boldly as she plays. Take a gander at some of her best lines from this week and the past:
• Back in 2003 she mused: "All I want is to have fun in what I'm doing every day. I don't want to break records. To become the greatest player ever could take me like ... 10 more years and I don't think I'll still be playing at 31." About a year later she announced, "I am striving to become The Greatest. Tennis-wise, I want to win tons more Grand Slams. If I do, I definitely do think I'll be The Greatest. I guess you have to say it the way it is. I see myself becoming that."
• In 2004 she told a reporter of her faith (she's a Jehovah's Witness): "We don't believe in dating unless you're ready to get married. I've never dated anybody. It's good to get experience under your belt, but you should never get wild or go crazy. That's how I look at it. If I can't see myself with this person for life -- I can't be bothered. I can't waste my time. I have some really good men friends, but I believe in no sex before marriage. No fornicating. Stuff like that. I really believe in that. I mean, I'm not perfect. It's hard to live by Bible standards, but I'm really comfortable with me."
• After nearly a decade of "not dating," she swore off men for the next 10 years. "I've given up on dating. The last relationship was just too much of a heartbreak for me. I have to remove myself from that atmosphere for about the next decade or so."
• At age 22, she looked ahead to her future: "When I'm 32? Hopefully I'll have made my mark with a few different movies, some scary ones and some comedies. I'm really funny; I have a great personality on the camera. I would be really excellent in a horror film because I have a great scream. I'd be really good in a comedy, too. I'm top, top, top quality."
• Shortly after singing her own praises as an actress she added a few thoughts on her career in fashion as well. "I don't want to sound like I'm pontificating or anything, but I think I'm really good at [designing clothes] -- I'm the best. Besides Versace, Armani, I'm right up there."
• "I'm so inspired to be out there. I love tennis and I love playing. This is what I do best," she said at the BNL d'Italia International in Rome last week. Flashback to January of this year, when she admitted, "I mean, I don't love tennis today, but I'm here, and I can't live without it … so I'm still here and I don't want to go anywhere any time soon. It's not that I've fallen out of love; I've actually never liked sports, and I never understood how I became an athlete."
• Last week while tweeting enthusiastically about her arrival in Paris, she proclaimed: "I think while in paris my name should be Chantel #sofrench." I have a feeling the nickname won't last long after her one-and-done showing at Roland Garros.
• And just last month, when asked what was the craziest thing anyone has ever asked her for after a match, she replied, "Well, besides the obvious? ... Thank you. I think we'll end on that."
We'll end on that, as well, knowing this week won't be the last we've heard of Williams, on or off the court.