The most prestigious and highly anticipated annual tennis tournament, Wimbledon Championships, kicks off today 2 July at the All England Club in Wimbledon, South West London. All eyes are now on the ‘Greatest Of All Time’ (GOAT) Serena Williams as she takes to the court. However, Serena has had a less than pleasant build up to the tournament, as she was subjected to a series of doping tests throughout the month of June. She finally expressed her discontent over this issue yesterday at a press conference in London.

The iconic 36-year-old Wimbledon champion has reportedly been receiving ‘excessive targeting from US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) drug testers,’ to the extent that one of their testers refused to leave her Florida home when they arrived at her house before Serena’s allocated ’60-minute whereabouts window’. The agency technically has no right to show up at any athlete’s house outside of that specified time, so this was an uncalled for ambush.

‘You only get three missed tests. For me it’s a little frustrating. How can I have a missed test when it’s nowhere near the time I should be there? It’s really disappointing, shocking. I was just like: That’s just weird,’ Serena said at the press conference, where she also revealed her dismay at how often she’s been tested for doping this year.

‘I didn’t know I was tested so much more than everyone else. I do know I’m always getting tested all the time, no matter where I’m ranked,’ she continued. According to Times Live, the tennis legend was tested five times during June compared to other American players taking part in the tournament, who have only been tested once or not even at all. Serena has since spoken to USADA chiefs, as she is demanding fair and equal treatment.

A call for fair treatment on doping tests

Understandably feeling targeted by anti-doping officers, the 23-time Grand Slam champion is less concerned about the fact that she’s getting tested, but rather about how often she’s tested in comparison to her compatriots, and as a result, would appreciate more transparency from USADA.

‘I despise having people in our sport that aren’t being honest. I’m totally okay with testing and I encourage it. I’m okay for it. What I want to know is everyone is getting tested, that we are really working to keep this sport clean,’ a UbiTennis article quoted.

This is not the first time Serena has called out various forms of inequality. In August 2017, she penned a passionate personal essay published by Fortune where she called on black women to demand equal pay, while also speaking out about the racism she has been subjected to ‘on and off the tennis court’. An article in The Guardian shared some of Williams’ poignant words and facts, saying, ‘the gender pay gap hits women of colour the hardest’.

‘For every dollar earned by men in the US, black women earn 63 cents, and 17% less than white women.’

‘Luckily I am blessed with an inner drive and a support system of family and friends that encourage me to move forward. But these injustices still hurt.’

‘The cycles of poverty, discrimination and sexism are much, much harder to break than the record for Grand Slam titles.’

‘For every black woman that rises through the ranks to a position of power, there are too many others who are still struggling.’

Read the full essay here.

But she still loves the game…

.. and we don’t blame her. Serena Williams is still determined, passionate, devoted, and perhaps even star-struck by the extent of her own success. Serena has been counting down to Wimbledon in a series of throwback Twitter posts over the past week, recalling sentimental moments and highlights she shared with the other half of the mighty tennis duo, big sister Venus Williams:

Roger Federer

And good ol’ GOAT moments, which we’re looking forward to seeing during this year’s tournament: