Lisa warned over Serena walkout


SERENA Williams has opened up on her chaotic US Open final in an interview with The Project's Lisa Wilkinson. But the chat didn't come without a few curve balls of its own.

The Channel 10 star snagged a one-on-one chat with the 23-time grand slam champ days after her defeat to Naomi Osaka.

But there were as many strings attached to the chat as on a tennis racket.

Wilkinson told her panellists on The Project that, point blank, Williams' publicist warned that if she asked about the controversial Herald Sun cartoon then the tennis champ would end the interview right there and then.

It wasn't the only time Wilkinson found herself scolded. A sneak peek of the interview released over the weekend showed Wilkinson being cut short after she poked Williams with one too many questions regarding her display at Flushing Meadows.

After touching on motherhood and her rise to stardom, The Sunday Project host switched to the elephant in the room, asking Williams if she regretted smashing her racket in the second set - a brain snap which saw her slapped with a code violation which eventually resulted in her spraying umpire Carlos Ramos.

Before she could respond, the voice of Serena's publicist interrupted: "That's four questions about the US Open so ... change topic."

"I'm totally in your hands, Serena," Wilkinson insisted, asking her talent if she was comfortable answering more questions.

Williams, who initially attacked her treatment from the umpire as "sexism", simply claimed women should be able to do "half of what men can" and said she wished to put the saga behind her.

"If as a man you want to express yourself, without profanity, you should be able too. As a woman you should be able to do half of what a man can," she said.

"But I'm just trying to recover from that and move on."

Following the interview, Wilkinson revealed to her co-hosts that she was told to steer clear of asking the US star about Mark Knight's controversial cartoon published in the wake of the US Open.

"I was told in no uncertain terms before I sat down in that room (that) if I brought up the Mark Knight cartoon, she would have got up and walked out," Wilkinson said. "There would be no ifs or buts. And I know that would have been great tabloid TV to have her walk off but I was actually more interested in her answers to the US Open questions."

If looks could kill.
If looks could kill.

Williams told Wilkinson she had no idea coach Patrick Mouratoglou was coaching her through the match despite him admitting to making hand signals.

"We don't have signals, we've never had signals," she said. "It was just a really confusing moment."

Williams touched on her decision to play in a tutu after being barred from wearing her polarising "black panther" outfit.

"The perfect answer to that, the perfect reply, I can't believe I never thought of that," she laughed.

The 36-year-old said she had to learn to love herself as her glittering career launched her in front of the international spotlight.

"I can't say I was always comfortable in my body, I had to learn to embrace my curves and my body," she said.

"It's been really tough to come back (after becoming a mother), it's heart-wrenching leaving for a match with her crying."


Williams opened up on the emotional hours that followed her US Open loss in an interview with Mamamia's Mia Freedman.

"For me I feel like we should lift each other up and support each other, and not tear each other down, and that's something I've always tried to do," Williams said.

"I got in the car, and Olympia was in the car. It was so weird, and she started giving me kisses, she never gives me kisses. She doesn't even know to give kisses, and she just grabbed me, and I was like this little baby is so smart. It's just hard to be too down when you have a little one … when you have someone to take care of.

"Like I have to take care of this person, and I have to do this type of stuff, it puts everything in perspective."


The cartoon Wilkinson was told to avoid.
The cartoon Wilkinson was told to avoid.

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