Iím A Sweet Stalker

by Jennifer Gould
September 7, 2002

EXCLUSIVE --It was love at first sight, stalker Albrecht Stromeyer says of his obsession with tennis ace Serena Williams.

"I was smitten as soon as I saw her," the wild-haired 34-year-old told The Post in an exclusive interview at Rikers Island yesterday.

Declaring that he fell for Serena's "grace, beauty and dignity," Stromeyer tapped his heart with his hand and said, "I love her deeply. My love is pure."

"It is not a sexual love but an aesthetic one. I also admire her discipline. It's something I've never had."

Stromeyer, who comes from a wealthy German family and speaks English with an upper-class British accent, spent the last 14 months following Serena, 20, across Europe and the United States.

After being arrested at the U.S. Open last week, he pleaded guilty to fourth-degree stalking on Thursday and agreed to return home to seek psychiatric treatment. He is expected to be flown back as early as Monday.

Stromeyer will miss today's final between Serena and her sister Venus - the fourth time in the last five major tournaments that the sisters have battled in a tennis final.

In the interview, Stromeyer said his wealthy family and friends helped him finance his stalking, and he charged $15,000 on his HSBC credit card.

"Please thank the bank," he said. "I couldn't have stalked without them."

In addition, Stromeyer said, one of his three brothers works for Delta Air Lines in Germany and gave him "buddy passes" that let him fly cheaply.

He said his mother, a London psychotherapist, paid for his New York flight.

"She understands the romantic and poetic nature of it," he said. "She just doesn't want me to get hurt or into trouble - like prison." Stromeyer, who also speaks German and French, is tall and thin, has thick, dark-brown hair, a full beard, gray eyes and dimples.

He calls tennis "the game of kings."

"It is a graceful game that reveals the personality of the players," he said. "Serena is a dancer. She is the ballerina of tennis." He said he fell in love with her two summers ago when he first saw her playing on TV.

"She has this perfect tuft of hair. I had to watch her in person," he said.

By the summer of 2001, Stromeyer had a front-row seat at Wimbledon.

"She played beautifully," he said. "We had eye contact. She was so close to me and sort of half-turned. I wanted to declare my love and ask her to marry me, but I was too shy. I was a white European with no job. What could I offer her?"

Once, Williams lost a match that Stromeyer had not attended.

"I felt so guilty," he said. "I knew I had to be at all the games to support her."

So he began following her across Europe and the United States. "It's like following migrating birds, or like tracking a wildebeest in Africa," he said.

He learned about big-game hunting from his maternal grandfather, a top German diplomat in Africa.

"Maybe that's where I first learned about stalking," he said.

Sometimes, Stromeyer lived the high life, staying in the same luxury hotels that Williams did.

But on his latest trip, Stromeyer says he stayed in Central Park.

"I am an environmentalist, a nature boy," he said. "I am not materialistic. I don't need much to live."

Stromeyer's parents are divorced. His father, a retired banker, lives in Frankfurt.

He says that after attending posh private schools in London, he served two years in the German army - during which he honed his stalking skills with reconnaissance and survival training.

Stromeyer had been arrested in Arizona, Rome and London before he was nabbed by cops Aug. 30 while watching Serena practice at the U.S. Open.

After winning her semifinal match yesterday, Serena said she was glad police arrested Stromeyer, and added that it was the first time authorities anywhere took his stalking seriously.

"You can see why New York has been applauding so many of its police officers and firefighters," she said. "I really owe them a lot of thanks."

But Stromeyer insisted he never intended to hurt the tennis star.

"I would never physically harm Serena, but I inadvertently caused mental anguish to her father, and if I hurt him, I must have hurt her," he said.

"I'm a Buddhist. I wouldn't even harm an insect," he added. "I suppose I've been very selfish, pursuing what I want without realizing the impact. I have to break the pattern and find another way to communicate my love - perhaps through art. I need help emotionally and creatively."

His lawyer, Gerard Savage, said Stromeyer was scared straight by Rikers and plans to move on with his life.

"It was his first time ever in the big house, and it was a big wake-up call. It matured him," Savage said.

But Serena's mom, Oracene, said, "I'm really skeptical he can change. He needs serious help."

- With Andy Geller, Brad Hunter and Marc Berman