After Serena Williams moved past Lucie Safarova, a reporter's seemingly innocent comment right of the gates was met with sharp words from the 35-year-old. Williams had just wrapped up a 6-3, 6-4 win that secured her spot in the third round.
"Congrats on the win, but it looked a little bit like a scrappy performance—few more unforced errors... couple more double faults," the reporter said.
"Oh, I think that's a very negative thing to say," Williams said. "Are you serious?"
"Just my observation," he said.
"OK, well, you should have been out there," Williams said. "That wasn't very kind. You should apologize. Do you want to apologize?"
To which the now surely shaken reporter backed down quickly, saying, "I just did. I'm sorry."
"OK, thank you very much," Williams said. "That was a great performance. I played well. She's a former Top 10 player. The last time we played was in the finals of a Grand Slam...."
Addressing a famous professional athlete in a press room full of your colleagues and competitors is intimidating enough without realizing your biggest fear is actually unfolding: you've said something dumb, or at least, something perceived as dumb.
In his defense, the reporter sort of had a point. Williams compiled six double faults to Safarova's three, but also smacked down 15 aces. She racked up 23 unforced errors to the Czech's 16, but also added 11 more winners (35 to 24).
Numbers like those are standard for a Williams early round win though, and she's done very well to deal with her first two challenging rounds (she had to beat Belinda Bencic in her opening round). Williams was 9-0 against Safarova going into Thursday, with four of those matches going the distance, including the 2015 Roland Garros final.
To be honest though, it's just really fun to see Williams breathing some life into the press room. In pressers past, she has been apt to respond in a monotone with an affinity for short answers, and even quick escapes.
It's her prerogative to have her bad days though, inside and outside the press room, just like the reporters have the right to ask anything, even if it sometimes means slinking away with their tail between their legs.