Wimbledon, Jun 24 : Serena Williams showed her softer side on Thursday as she spoke of her meeting with a sick five-year-old boy at Wimbledon.
Jack Marshall, from Scunthorpe in northern England, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2009. His mother Tracy has contacted a number of celebrities via social networking site Twitter to help spread awareness of his illness and raise money to support him and other sufferers.
His Twitter feed has nearly 40,000 followers, among them Serena.
Jack met Manchester United stars including Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney in April, and even gave England striker Rooney a kiss on the cheek.
On Thursday, he was on Court 2 to watch Williams beat Simona Halep in the second round. A day earlier, he met the 13-time Grand Slam champion, who has just made her return from nearly a year out with health problems.
“I read his story, and my heart kind of went out for him,” Williams said. “I was like, Oh, my God. That was one thing, I thought if I made it to Wimbledon, I wanted to invite Jack out.
“I got to meet him yesterday. It's just been so amazing, his whole story, to be so small to have such courage. He calls me his best bud, so I love it.”
The feeling is mutual. His mother tweeted that when Serena left their meeting, Jack said “love you, miss you.”
She added: “hi Serena I don't know what you've done but Jack—Marshall—has had SO much energy over past few days since meeting you,he is loving watching you play tennis and can't wait til ya next game! SerenaPower.”
RAINY DAYS: Besides just playing her opponent Thursday at Wimbledon, Ana Ivanovic was racing against the clouds.
The 18th-seeded Serb was first up on Court 12 against Eleni Daniilidou of Greece. But with rain expected in the afternoon, Ivanovic wanted to get the match over as quick as possible.
“I started looking up and I saw them approaching. I saw the forecast this morning and I saw that it's supposed to start at 1:00,” Ivanovic said after beating Daniilidou 6-3, 6-0. “I was like, ‘Don't interrupt now.”'
Ivanovic is a former No. 1 and won her only Grand Slam title at the 2008 French Open. But since then, her best results at a major have been three appearances in the fourth round.
Coming into this year's tournament at Wimbledon, however, Ivanovic warmed up with some wins on grass.
“I think lots of players tend to peak for this event. It's one of the biggest tournaments in the world we have,” Ivanovic said. “Having good week in Birmingham, then playing well in Eastbourne, it obviously helps and it builds up for Wimbledon.
“This is where you want to perform your best.” AP