Serena Williams falls in love with Singapore
One of tennis' all-time greats declares an affinity with Singaporeans and is eager to hold a fashion show here
There is a roar that will go up when she walks out on court anywhere she plays, often a smoke machine hisses into action accompanied by loud music and pyrotechnics.
It is the cue for hordes of adoring fans to hold aloft their signs of love, the announcer needs a long few minutes to read off her list of accomplishments as photographers click away.
Paparazzi follow her when she's off work, fans seemingly in streams ask for photographs and autographs or stop to shake hands and wish her well.
When she serves it goes off like a gun, her screams of "COME ON" are legendary, her game starts loud and usually ends even louder.
Tennis superstar Serena Williams must crave quiet time in her loud, loud world.
Maybe it was why it was so deafeningly quiet when I sat down with her for a chat high up in one of the suites at the Marina Bay Sands on Friday.
"It is so quiet and peaceful here," she said, smiling contentedly.
It was an off-day for her, as she waited to find out if she would have more game time at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
In the end, results worked out in the world No. 1's favour, who will go for her third successive WTA Finals win, and fifth in all, against Simona Halep today at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
However it turns out, Williams is already in love with the Lion City.
All week, her march out onto the court at the Indoor Stadium has been greeted with raucous roars, the locals have shown off various patterned placards showing their affection for the star, and she's soaked it all in.
"Singapore has been really great," she said.
"I had an opportunity to visit Chinatown, and I've walked around and it has been really fun and I've had a really great experience.
"I've heard so much about the country and had an opportunity to come, finally, and it's been great to fulfil my dreams and see what the culture is like and see how the people are and to see, in actuality, how similar they are to me.
"So yeah, it's been a wonderful experience."
This was Williams dressed down, simple in a tracksuit, no tennis racquet in sight, no fans milling about, or cameras or TV crew, with just her agent in a huge room.
She is the most ferocious competitor in the history of tennis, but here was a quiet, calm, thoughtful Williams who declared an affinity with Singaporeans.
She explained why.
"Just in the thought process, as well as the fact this is a really huge fashion capital, I think probably pretty much in the Asia-Pacific area," she said.
"So yeah, it's just a really cool city.
"The fashion even extends to buildings, everything is just so unique, so different, from the uh, Esplanade, to everything, it's just so unique."
The rise of big sister Venus and Serena into superstar tennis players has been one of those unlikely stories that can only make us all smile and be thankful for.
They were tutored by their father on public courts in gang-riddled Compton, Los Angeles, and rose all the way to the mountain top.
Venus owns seven Grand Slam crowns, Serena a room-filling 18.
Venus has her own clothing line, EleVen, and Serena made her runway show debut at New York Fashion Week last month with clothes designed for the shopping network HSN.
At 33, she has won it all on court, although she is far from done and is looking at more Grand Slam conquests and also Rio 2016, to add to her collection of four Olympic gold medals.
That is not to say she is only about tennis.
Indeed, she is also looking to show off her fashion style in Singapore.
"When I'm off the court, I try to have a lot of fun, and I try to be humble, and I try to be as happy as I can... you know, I do play a lot of jokes on people when I'm off the court.
"I have a lot of interest in fashion. I have a fashion company that's based in the States and we are trying to expand now.
"That's one of my goals, is to bring it to Singapore and have Singaporeans be able to wear some wonderful fashion that we bring to the States, so I'm really excited about that," she revealed.
"I did a fashion show in New York and it will be really awesome if next year or sometime I can do one here in Singapore, that'll be really cool.
"As for the tennis aspect... I definitely see myself as a role model for a lot of things in tennis.
"Myself and my sister, we've been able to open a lot of different doors.
"My only hope is that we can continue to inspire other people and we can continue to open different doors, as well."
The Williams sisters are trailblazers.
And after a knee injury, Serena's presence in Singapore was crucial at this year's WTA Finals, in terms of the whole excitement and atmosphere of the prestigious year-ending tournament.
Her relationship with the Republic is set to deepen when she wears the home jersey next month as part of the Singapore Slammers in the fledgling International Premier Tennis League.
The hope is the American great can boost the game here and help youngsters to continue to live the dream.
She said: "Well, I think the key thing is to not give up.
"There's going to be days when you feel like you want to quit.
"Or you want to do something different, or try something new, and it is so important to persevere, persevere through everything and perseverance brings endurance, and endurance brings results and results bring you know the goals that you are trying to reach, and so it all pretty much starts with perseverance."
That is the message she wants Singapore's young boys and girls to take to heart.
"There's a scripture in the Bible that I love, it's in Romans, and it says persevere and prayer, endure under tribulation, and rejoice in the hope, so if you can persevere and have endurance then you have a chance to rejoice and I think that is really beautiful."
She smiled and nodded in contentment.
She told me she would be going for the Mariah Carey concert later that evening.
It was about to get loud once again in Serena Williams' world.
Although I don't think she minds, as long as she has her quiet time, and gets a chance to fall in love with a new country.
Well I'm not sure what I give back, but I can only hope I can give back a lot of encouragement, as well as, you know, a lot of hope, a lot of heart. Everything I do I give my whole heart and I try to stay encouraged, even though at times, it is very difficult. That's what I hope that the young Singaporean children can take from me.
Hard work is really important. It is so important to work hard, not only in what you do, but also in everything. It is so important to believe in yourself, and to have goals and to know that no matter what, you can do the best that you can do.