PARIS: American tennis star Serena Williams was at the centre of a stalking scare Friday after a spectator bluffed his way into a press conference just two days after he had evaded security to reach the players dressing room at the Paris Indoor Open here.
French police were questioning the man who had approached the seven-time Grand Slam winner as she talked to reporters to explain her decision to pull out of the tournament because of gastro-enteritis.
Speaking in French, the man in his 30s asked the world number two: “You're not annoyed with me for walking into your locker room the other day. I just came to ask you for a kiss. I didn't have it, can I have it today?”
“I'm a fan. You have to give it a go. You only live once.”
Williams, twice a champion here and fresh from her Australian Open triumph, replied “No” after hearing the translation and quickly left the conference room looking puzzled.
A WTA spokeswoman said that the man was being questioned by police to find out how he managed to make it into both the locker room and the press room which required special accreditation.
Playing in her first tournament since winning a second Australian Open title in Melbourne last month, the 23-year-old American had been due to play a quarter-final match yesterday against unseeded Russian Dinara Safina.
“I'm really sorry not to be able to play here, but I'm sick,” said Williams.
Safina, 18, advances to meet France's Tatiana Golovin who booked her second consecutive semi-final place earlier yesterday when seventh-seeded Italian veteran Silvia Farina Elia was forced to retire with a right shoulder injury. – AFP