Roger Federer, fresh off his record-tying seventh Wimbledon title, strolled around the tournament grounds on Monday, conducted media interviews in several languages and marveled as workers began to dismantle the familiar signage and shops to make way for London Olympics organizers, who officially took over the All England Club on Tuesday.
The Olympic tennis tournament begins July 28, and many of the world's top players will reconvene to compete for their countries on quickly refurbished grass. It will be the fourth Olympics for Federer, who has yet to win a singles gold medal.
Meanwhile, women's champion Serena Williams was on a plane Monday, traveling 5,000 miles and across eight time zones to defend her title at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, Calif. She told reporters she had trouble sleeping on the flight, watched five movies and admitted upon arrival that the schedule is "probably the most hectic it has been in my career."
And then she joked: "I don't know really where I am right now."
Williams, the 14-time Grand Slam champion, will fly back to London after the Stanford event to attempt to win one of the few prizes that has eluded her -- an Olympic singles gold medal. She and older sister, Venus, won doubles gold in 2000 and 2008. Serena might pair with John Isner or Andy Roddick in mixed doubles, a new Olympic event this year.
Williams said she made the long trek from England to California because she wanted a chance to defend her title at the tournament where she made a comeback last summer after a string of medical issues and injuries.
"I really wanted to come here more than anything," Williams said. "This is kind of where I felt like it began. Just getting on that plane and coming here to play is probably the best thing I could have done. ... I've actually never felt this fit and this good in my entire life. It's really, really, really weird, but I've never felt this good."
Roddick praised Williams during a conference call Tuesday.
"She's almost become a master of comebacks," he said. "I remember when, what, four or five years ago, she was below 100 in the world, and people were wondering if that was it. She came back and dominated. I was happy to see her back where she belongs, in the winner's circle there."
Like Williams, Federer is eager to win Olympic gold. He finished fourth at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, where he met his wife, Mirka, who was competing in tennis. In 2004, he entered the Athens Games as the No. 1 player in the world and heavy favorite. He was upset in the second round by 74th-ranked Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic. Four years later, in Beijing, Federer was again the favorite. He beat Berdych in the third round but was stunned in the quarterfinal by American James Blake, 6-4, 7-6 (2). Rafael Nadal went on to win the gold medal.
Federer said he isn't sure if he'll carry the Swiss flag in the opening ceremonies. He carried it twice, and said it might be time for another athlete to have the honor. He will not stay in the Athletes Village, choosing instead to stay in the same house he rents for Wimbledon, which is near the grounds. A house is more comfortable for Mirka and their twin daughters, who turn 3 this month.
He was asked whether the twins understood what he accomplished on Centre Court on Sunday, tying Pete Sampras' record with seven Wimbledon titles, winning his 17th Grand Slam title and at 30 becoming the oldest Wimbledon men's winner since Arthur Ashe in 1975.
He smiled and replied: "I don't know about other 3-year olds, what they understand, but mine almost understand the difference between a match and a practice. So, there you go. Winning and losing? They don't quite get that yet, which is a good thing, I think."
Nadal, who was upset in the second round at Wimbledon, canceled a July 14 exhibition against Novak Djokovic that was scheduled for Bernabeu Stadium, home of Real Madrid. Nadal has tendinitis in his knees and said he needs the time to recover for the Olympics.
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