TENNIS

‘She can achieve anything’: Serena Williams’s coach says she will play French Open to win it

Williams landed a 23rd major at the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant and this will be her first major since.

Serena Williams might well be “stressed and excited” at the prospect of her season clay debut at the French Open, but she remains capable of winning the tournament, according to her coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

Williams landed a 23rd major at the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant, but Mouratoglou admitted that the American, who lost early in Indian Wells and Miami in March and then withdrew from this month’s Madrid and Rome tournaments, returned to the WTA Tour too soon.

Mouratoglou, however, insisted: “Serena will play the French Open to win it.

“Can she do it? Serena can achieve anything – after being her coach for six years, I’m even more sure of that statement,” he told wtatennis.com.

“After her pregnancy, Serena had to rebuild her body. When she arrived at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy (in Nice), around April 30, we realised that she was not ready yet. The time she lost after the delivery with all the medical issues she had to go through, was missing,” said Mouratoglou.

“That is the reason why we decided to skip Madrid and Rome as she needed five weeks to be perfectly ready. Then we worked with my team in order to prepare a programme for her to get back in her best shape including nutrition, fitness and, of course, tennis.

“So far, things are going very well. She is working extremely hard, she is improving in all the areas fast. I am very satisfied and confident that she will be ready for Roland Garros.”

Mouratoglou added: “What I find the most encouraging is her enthusiasm, her motivation, and the quality of her work. Thanks to that, she is making impressive progress. She is hitting the ball great already and her body is getting back to what it used to be. The goal is that she comes back even stronger than before.

“She obviously comes back to win and the wait has been long, so she will probably start Roland Garros with a mix of stress because she will want to do well and excitement because playing those events is the reason why she made such huge efforts to come back.”

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People who fall through the gaps in road safety campaigns

Helmet and road safety campaigns might have been neglecting a sizeable chunk of the public at risk.

City police, across the country, have been running a long-drawn campaign on helmet safety. In a recent initiative by the Bengaluru Police, a cop dressed-up as ‘Lord Ganesha’ offered helmets and roses to two-wheeler riders. Earlier this year, a 12ft high and 9ft wide helmet was installed in Kota as a memorial to the victims of road accidents. As for the social media leg of the campaign, the Mumbai Police made a pop-culture reference to drive the message of road safety through their Twitter handle.

But, just for the sake of conversation, how much safety do helmets provide anyway?

Lack of physical protections put two-wheeler riders at high risk on the road. According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes. Nearly half of those dying on the world’s roads are ‘vulnerable road users’ – pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. According to the Indian transport ministry, about 28 two-wheeler riders died daily on Indian roads in 2016 for not wearing helmets.

The WHO states that wearing a motorcycle helmet correctly can reduce the risk of death by almost 40% and the risk of severe injury by over 70%. The components of a helmet are designed to reduce impact of a force collision to the head. A rigid outer shell distributes the impact over a large surface area, while the soft lining absorbs the impact.

However, getting two-wheeler riders to wear protective headgear has always been an uphill battle, one that has intensified through the years owing to the lives lost due on the road. Communication tactics are generating awareness about the consequences of riding without a helmet and changing behaviour that the law couldn’t on its own. But amidst all the tag-lines, slogans and get-ups that reach out to the rider, the safety of the one on the passenger seat is being ignored.

Pillion rider safety has always been second in priority. While several state governments are making helmets for pillion riders mandatory, the lack of awareness about its importance runs deep. In Mumbai itself, only 1% of the 20 lakh pillion riders wear helmets. There seems to be this perception that while two-wheeler riders are safer wearing a helmet, their passengers don’t necessarily need one. Statistics prove otherwise. For instance, in Hyderabad, the Cyberabad traffic police reported that 1 of every 3 two-wheeler deaths was that of a pillion rider. DGP Chander, Goa, stressed that 71% of fatalities in road accidents in 2017 were of two-wheeler rider and pillion riders of which 66% deaths were due to head injury.

Despite the alarming statistics, pillion riders, who are as vulnerable as front riders to head-injuries, have never been the focus of helmet awareness and safety drives. To fill-up that communication gap, Reliance General Insurance has engineered a campaign, titled #FaceThePace, that focusses solely on pillion rider safety. The campaign film tells a relatable story of a father taking his son for cricket practice on a motorbike. It then uses cricket to bring our attention to a simple flaw in the way we think about pillion rider safety – using a helmet to play a sport makes sense, but somehow, protecting your head while riding on a two-wheeler isn’t considered.

This road safety initiative by Reliance General Insurance has taken the lead in addressing the helmet issue as a whole — pillion or front, helmets are crucial for two-wheeler riders. The film ensures that we realise how selective our worry about head injury is by comparing the statistics of children deaths due to road accidents to fatal accidents on a cricket ground. Message delivered. Watch the video to see how the story pans out.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Reliance General Insurance and not by the Scroll editorial team.