The Age: Serena Williams sure has friends in high places. Usually, the 14-time grand slam winner’s supporters’ box is populated by family members but for her first-round Olympics match on Saturday there was an addition to the cast: the American first lady, Michelle Obama.
The US president’s wife was a guest of Williams, who won her fifth Wimbledon singles title three weeks ago, preferring to sit in the players’ box rather than the Royal Box, where dignitaries are usually planted at the All England Club.
And after the US president’s wife sat alongside Williams’ mother, Oracene Price, inside the Centre Court it was quickly obvious the two were not exactly strangers.
The 30-year-old twice referred to the first lady as simply “Michelle” during her post-match news conference, having disposed of Serbia’s former world No.1 Jelena Jankovic 6-3 6-1 with little drama on Saturday.
“Oops, am I being rude?” Williams said when asked whether she was on first-name basis with Mrs Obama. “She’s so cool. I’ve met her several times. I feel comfortable saying ‘Michelle,’ and I think she wants the people to feel that way.
“They asked me did I mind if she sat in the family box. I was like, ‘of course not’. Please, it would be my honour. I mean, I love Michelle.”