Earlier this year at a Fed Cup tie in Bucharest, the former tennis world No. 1 Ilie Năstase made some choice comments regarding the unborn child of Serena Williams.
In what amounted to little more than a racially charged epithet about Williams, her white husband Alexis Ohanian, and the prospective colour of their child, Năstase's comments were widely condemned - he was later banned from official roles by the International Tennis Federation until 2021.
Speaking with Vogue magazine this week, Williams was angered by Năstase's comments regarding her unborn child primarily.
However, it was with Năstase's accusation that Williams was doping her way to success that the 23 time major winner took the greatest exception. Categorically denying the Romanian's accusations, Williams revealed that she is
tested all the time. I’m not putting poison in this body. If I can’t beat you, I’m not going to cheat to win. End of story.
Keen tennis fans will remember an incident involving Williams and a drug tester from 2011. Known to arrive at any time of the day, Williams reportedly mistook the tester for a dangerous intruder upon their arrival at 6 a.m. Having called the police, she then proceeded to barricade herself within a purpose built panic room in her L.A. home.
While Năstase's comments are without any proof, he ultimately claims that all American athletes are immune to any sanction. Keeping her dismissal brief, Williams also refuted any notion that a conclusion to her career is near at hand:
It’s hard to figure out what the end of your tennis career should look like. I used to think I’d want to retire when I have kids, but no. I’m definitely coming back. Walking out there and hearing the crowd, it may seem like nothing. But there’s no better feeling in the world.
Having surpassed Stefi Graff's Open era record of 22 majors, the opportunity of overtaking Margaret Court's pre-Open era haul of 24 majors is similarly driving her on.
Having already began training for her comeback at the Australian Open in January, Williams appreciates the extreme nature of what she is attempting - she will have given birth only three months previously. Uneasy with the prospect of returning only to make up numbers though, Williams is determined that she is coming back to win.
And who would bet against her doing just that?