MONTREAL – No - not THAT kind of exit. She hasn't even played yet.
It had been 14 years since Serena Williams set foot in Montreal to compete in the Rogers Cup. She was just 18, and got to the final before retiring in the third set against Martina Hingis.
Well, she's finally back – who knows, perhaps for the final time in her career. But Williams's re-introduction to the city wasn't exactly the warmest and fuzziest one in the history of tennis.
Williams, who won the Bank of the West Classic singles title in Stanford, California Sunday, must have taken a red-eye to Montreal to have been on the site when she was.
Her press conference was scheduled for 3 p.m., which came and went. Then it was "somewhere between 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m." because of another planned activity. That came and went.
Then Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, the former champion who was inducted into the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame Monday night, jumped the line and came in for her scheduled 3:45 p.m. press conference.
Finally, Williams ambled in looking a little rough around the edges, as anyone would after an overnight flight who hasn't had any sleep.
But she put her Serena face on, and deftly handled some hard-hitting questions about local heroine Genie Bouchard, French fries, the "European" nature of Montreal and the difference between the Parisian and Québécois accents.
And her hair looked really good.
Here is some of that.
Then, suddenly, it got complicated.
Someone asking her about her 200 weeks at No. 1 goofed up on her age, adding on an extra birthday to the 32 she has already had. Williams straightened that out immediately, and didn't look particularly pleased about it.
(That's the "I'm smiling, but I'm hating inside" look).
A few questions later, it seemed ol' Serena had had enough. The same reporter then asked her about the bizarre situation during her doubles match at Wimbledon last month with her sister Venus, where Serena appeared very unsteady and ultimately had to retire.
Here was the question:
"Do you understand why people found Wimbledon so frightening, to watch you there?"
Well, Williams didn't exactly lose it. But she was having none of it.
She gave the woman this look:
"We talked about that last week. I think you missed that one. Thank you," she said.
Then she proceeded to remove her microphone – actresses know how to do these sorts of things with their electronic devices if they have to – and just flounced right out the door behind WTA Tour PR representative Catherine Sneddon without a backward glance.
Welcome back, Serena! Everyone in Montreal missed you!