Kokkinakis: “Serena’s so much stronger on the ball than I thought”

Published by Matt Trollope

"Like I knew she'd be good ... she looks strong, you can tell, but she's so much stronger on the ball than I thought," says Thanasi Kokkinakis of Serena Williams.
Thanasi Kokkinakis recounts his recent experience of hitting with Serena Williams at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in France.

Serena Williams surprised Thanasi Kokkinakis with the velocity of her shots, the young Australian revealed about the pair’s recent hit in the lead-up to the French Open.

Kokkinakis, who on Monday won his first-round qualifying match at Wimbledon in three sets over El Salvador’s  Marcelo Arevalo, discussed the hit with Williams that took place at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy as he was recovering from a knee injury sustained in Monte Carlo.

“She’s pretty good. Like I knew she’d be good … she looks strong, you can tell, but she’s so much stronger on the ball than I thought,” he said.

“We just rallied a little bit; I couldn’t do much because of my knee, and she couldn’t do much because of the baby (laughter).

“I haven’t hit with too many females but usually I think if I hit my hard shots, I’d draw an error but she’s pretty tough, yeah, for sure.

“Obviously she did pretty well given limited time at French Open, and she’s a good player – I can see why she’s won so many Slams for sure.”

Kokkinakis, a former world No.69 whose most recent big result was a stunning upset of Roger Federer at the Miami Masters in March, also revealed that Williams was a keen observer of his young career.

“Out of nowhere, I was just having a coffee (at the Mouratoglou Academy) and she just came and sat by the table and she knew a lot more about me than I thought. (That) was actually quite strange, but she was super nice,” he said.

“She knew these results I’d had in the past; there was something which really caught me off guard. I can’t exactly remember what it was but I was like, shit (laughter).

“I wish her all the best here (at Wimbledon). She’s been good to me.”

Kokkinakis takes on Kamil Majchrzak of Poland for a spot in the final round of Wimbledon qualifying.

Williams, meanwhile, continues to rehab the pectoral muscle injury that forced her to withdraw from Roland Garros prior to her fourth-round match against Maria Sharapova.

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