Another Young American Prepares to Face the Serena Williams Aura

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Williams said she might have held back in the past.

“I was heartbroken when she walked into that locker room, and I wanted to be there for her, because I have been there,” she said of Anisimova. “And it’s an interesting position, because it’s just like no one ever says anything, even though I feel like a lot of people want to.”

Among Kenin’s qualities are a feisty, combative approach and a short memory.

“She would get angry, but she never transported that negativity into the next point,” Petkovic said of playing doubles with her. “And I think that is a huge asset Sofia has apart from her game, and hopefully she can go really far.”

Kenin is intent on it, even if life on tour is full of risk, above all the possibility of injuries, as the leaders of her talent-rich peer group are discovering. Kenin’s friend CiCi Bellis, 20, was the first American their age to break into the top 40. But Bellis has been out for more than a year with elbow and wrist injuries.

Andreescu, an 18-year-old with a complete game, was transcendent in winning the BNP Paribas Open title in March in Indian Wells, Calif. But she did not play for more than two months coming into the French Open because of a small tear in the subscapularis, the largest of the rotator cuff muscles, which is in the front of the shoulder.

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“I wanted to just take my time and heal it properly, because with a shoulder injury you have to be really careful, because it’s really easy to reinjure it,” Andreescu told me before the tournament.

She now could have some tough choices to make, including whether to have surgery.

Kenin said she admired not just Williams’s game but also her staying power, and on Saturday, she will get to experience Williams at Roland Garros from the other side of the net.

“I’ve been watching her for so long,” Kenin said. “I always want to see Serena play, and this time I will get to see it in another way.”



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