Now 30, Serena still dominates discussion of the women's game despite having played only seven tournaments in 19 months.
Lack of passion no hindrance to Serena
Serena Williams has won 13 grand slam titles and been ranked No 1 in the world on five occasions since 2002. Imagine if she were passionate about her work.
Williams created a stir last week when she verbalised to TennisNow.com what many had long suspected, saying: "I don't love tennis." She added, however, that "I can't live without it … so I'm still here and I don't want to go anywhere any time soon".
Williams has been stepping in and out of the game for the past several years, playing when one of the majors has rolled around, or the spirit moves her, or in the margins of health issues.
"It's not that I've fallen out of love; I've actually never liked sports, and I never understood how I became an athlete," she said, according to the website. "I don't like working out; I don't like anything that has to do with working physically."
A day later, she suffered a sprained ankle in Brisbane, unfortunate timing for the five-time Australian Open champion ahead of the year's first grand slam.
But for all we know, she may consider the injury something of a blessing. Presumably, she won't have to train hard until it heals. Now 30, Serena still dominates discussion of the women's game - despite having played only seven tournaments in 19 months.
She won two of those seven and reached the final of the US Open, and that explains why the notion of a healthy Serena Williams still casts a shadow over women's tennis. Whether she loves the game or doesn't.