Virus fears put Williams, fellow athletes on edge

Tennis star Serena Williams on TikTok talking about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected her daily life. PHOTO: TIKTOK ACCOUNT OF SERENA WILLIAMS
Tennis star Serena Williams on TikTok talking about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected her daily life. PHOTO: TIKTOK ACCOUNT OF SERENA WILLIAMS

NEW YORK • With the global coronavirus pandemic turning daily lives upside down and confining people indoors, 23-time tennis Grand Slam singles winner Serena Williams shared an increasingly common sentiment on social media - "every little thing makes me really crazy".

Global sport has ground to a virtual standstill due to the Covid-19 disease, which has claimed more than 11,000 lives globally.

Many professional athletes, like Williams, have been left anxious as they struggle to cope with all the uncertainty that lies ahead.

"It started out with me feeling like 'Oh, it can't really affect me'," she said in a series of TikTok videos, in which she described how she has been practising social distancing for two weeks since the Indian Wells tournament was scrapped.

"That one cancellation led to another and another and then led to all this anxiety that I'm feeling. I'm just on edge any time anyone sneezes around me or coughs.

"I don't hang out with anyone, and when I say anyone I mean my daughter. She coughed, I got angry and gave her a side-eye.

"I gave her that 'Angry Serena' look and then I got sad. I was like, 'Is she OK? Is there something wrong with my daughter? Is there anything I can do?'

"I just don't know what to do, so instead of being relaxed I'm really under a ton of stress."

Other stars are equally vexed at being cooped up at home instead of playing the game they love.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has tweeted his frustrations, saying he "needed a vino drinking partner" and "really missed sports".

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young summed up how most of his National Basketball Association peers felt, posting he was "bored" and shooting balls of socks into laundry baskets on his Instagram account.

The crisis has also rattled those hoping to compete at this year's Tokyo Olympics, with the contagion preventing many athletes and thousands of hopefuls from continuing their usual training schedules as several countries are advising people to practise social isolation or distancing in a bid to stem the spread of the virus.

American weightlifter Katherine Nye said she was lucky to have already secured her ticket for Tokyo, despite her sport's qualifying period being cut short by a month and having to train out of her garage.

"Some people still had to compete again to qualify, and they have lost that opportunity entirely," she said. "I'm definitely experiencing a lot of anxiety because of the pandemic, just like lots of people around the world.

"It's not easy to ignore all the horrible things going on."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 22, 2020, with the headline 'Virus fears put Williams, fellow athletes on edge'. Subscribe