LONDON (Reuters) - Serena Williams described her treatment by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) as shocking on Sunday as she reacted to news that she had not been home for an out-of-competition test.
The seven-times Wimbledon champion was out when an anti-doping official arrived at her house at 8.30am on June 14 — 12 hours outside the allotted daily window she had previously agreed on her athlete whereabouts form.
There is no suggestion Williams did anything wrong and it was not registered as a ‘missed test’ but the American was clearly perplexed by the situation as she held her pre-Wimbledon news conference on Sunday.
It also came to light that the 23-times Grand Slam champion had already been tested five times by USADA this year while other American players have had been tested once or not at all.
Explaining the events of June 14, which were detailed in a report in website Deadspin, Williams said: “Every day, every player gives a time for testing. My time was actually 12 hours later. For some reason they showed up in the morning, which they are allowed to do. And if I’m not there, then they just leave.
“For whatever reason they didn’t leave. I was like, I’m totally not in the area because my hour is actually a long time from now. I’m completely so far away.
“It really doesn’t make sense. For me it’s a little frustrating. How can I have a missed test when it’s nowhere near the time I should be there?
“It’s really disappointing, shocking. I was like, that’s just weird. I’m still trying to figure out why and how that happened.”
USADA confirmed this week that Williams had passed all five tests. Williams said she had asked USADA for an explanation as to why she was being tested so regularly.
“I did have a conversation before I knew the information about all the other players,” she said. “I had a conversation with the lead guy with USADA.
“How is it I’m getting tested five times in June? It’s only June, I’ve been tested five times.
“I despise having people in our sport that aren’t being honest. I’m totally okay with testing and I encourage it. What I want to know is everyone is getting tested, that we are really working to keep this sport clean.
“It’s all about equality. If that’s testing everyone five times, let’s do it. It’s just about being equal and not centering one person out. Just due to the numbers, it looks like I’m being pushed out.”
The 36-year-old Williams, who missed last year’s Wimbledon because of pregnancy, is seeded 25th for the championships despite her world ranking of 181.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” she said of her seeding, having not been seeded at the French Open, her first Grand Slam back after giving birth to daughter Alexis Olympia in September.
“I came in here expecting that maybe I wouldn’t get a seed. I do know Wimbledon tends to kind of beat to their own drum. That’s kind of one thing that’s been able to set them apart.
“I thought it was very noble and honest and cool. Maybe not honest, but cool!”
Williams plays Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus on Monday.
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar