"I was really, really sick," Williams said in her first public appearance since that strange day. "Literally, the next three days I couldn't get out of bed. And usually when you lose in a tournament, you leave. You don't want to be around. Most people don't want to be around the surroundings. You leave. I literally stayed until the tournament ended. I wasn't allowed to leave by the doctors. The doctors said, 'Don't leave. You cannot. You have to stay.' "
Williams will play Wednesday in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, her first competition since that mystifying doubles match she and sister Venus played against Kristina Barrois and Stefanie Voegele on July 2 at Wimbledon. Her appearance and performance on the court that day were disturbing if not downright frightening.
First, the match was delayed about 10 minutes while medical staff examined Serena courtside. When the match started, the world's top-ranked player was so weak and woozy that she had difficulty simply bouncing the ball and grabbing it or tossing it in the air for a serve. When she did finally connect with the ball, one of the sport's finest servers hit shots that were extremely weak and hit the net again and again. She double-faulted four consecutive times in the third game before the match was halted.
Serena said that watching video of the match is weird. "It's like, 'Is that me? Why was it? Gosh!' But that's the fight in me, I'm always 'Go, go, go.' I never want to stop. I never want to give up. I never know when to say when."
Venus, however, was urging her to stop. "She was like, 'Walk off the court. Walk off the court.' I think she almost punched me," Serena said. "She was like, 'Walk off the court. I'm your big sister, I'm telling you -- you have to leave. Listen to me.' And I'm like, 'No, it's just half the court. I can do it.'"
Williams finally retired from the match with what tournament officials said was a viral condition. She reiterated it was a viral condition Monday but did not offer more specifics. "They just said that I was really ill and under the weather."
Asked whether the illness could have been brought on by exhaustion from the past two years, Serena said she had given that possibility some thought.
"I've been thinking about a lot of things," she said. "A lot of things have been crossing my brain. I'm going to get a lot of tests done at the end of the season and go from there. I do have to get a lot of tests done because of things that do run in the family, so I just want to make sure."
Following Wimbledon, Williams traveled to Croatia on what she called a vacation, and she practiced her tennis in the morning and enjoyed the sun in the afternoon. She also spent time in Toronto working on a movie.
"I've just been working out really hard," she said of her fitness routine. "Running and jumping and swimming hard and jumping in the ocean and hoping the sharks don't get me. That always works for me for conditioning. Just working out really hard."