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.”
A British fan holds a Union flag over the head of Mitt Romney as he attended the morning swimming session on Day One of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Romney’s visit to London featured a string of embarrassing gaffes, including him doubting in an interview that the city was ready to host the Games, earning him a sharp public rebuke from Prime Minister David Cameron. The hashtag #RomneyShambles promptly trended on Twitter.
Even far-right British newspaper The Daily Mail – no friends of President Obama – was scathing in its assessment of Romney, describing it as an “abysmal diplomatic visit”:
…. After making the epic faux pas of questioning whether London was fully prepared to host the Olympic games, Mr Romney has been jeered on American TV and slammed by top British politicians, with London mayor Boris Johnston mocking the Massachusetts governor in front of a crowd of 60,000.
…. behind the scenes officials were even more scathing about the Republican presidential hopeful, describing his visit as a ‘car crash’ and comparing him unfavourably to Sarah Palin.
Another official who met with the former Governor of Massachusetts said he was ‘apparently devoid of charm, warmth, humour or sincerity’.
…. Another Whitehall official said of Mr Romney’s remarks: ‘What a car crash. We are speechless’ – with one aide saying the candidate was ‘worse than Sarah Palin’….