Happy Christmas Venus, I hope you have had an enjoyable off season, what have you been upto?
Venus:- Merry Christmas Neil, it has been a really enjoyable but challenging 8 weeks, there hasnít been a day where I havenít had something to do. I was in New York for the fashion week with my fashion line Eleven, and I have been also doing photo shoots in order to promote the line. This has been a real passion for me, and it is brilliant that everyone can now buy the line. It will also be very strange seeing other players out there wearing it as well. It was just nice to get home, settle into a routine, and not worry about travelling to the next place, it was a peaceful rest with friends, family and my team.
Will we be seeing any new people on the Eleven Fashion Line, in terms of players on the circuit.
Venus:- Well currently there is myself, Johanna Konta and Varvara Lepchenko . There will be two new additions to the line also. A young up and coming player will be wearing it, her name is Madison Keys who won the America wildcard to play in Australia. I invited her to come down to Florida as her agent is friendly with my father. She is such a brilliant athlete and has a great future ahead of her. She will be wearing the line for a limited period, as she has a deal with Nike, however this is a trial basis. Also I got talking to Kirsten Flipkens at the recent farewell exhibition for Kim Clijsters, and she has stated that she wants to wear the line this season. It is great that people are now becoming familiar with my work.
That is brilliant Venus, I was particularly impressed with your fall collection, it was stunning. Now back to the tennis, how has the off season training been going.
Venus:- INTENSE! I actually donít think I have worked harder during the off season. Since coming back I had lost some muscle, I am still leaner than I was back in 2010, however I have regained some of that muscle which I had lost due to the syndrome. There was a lot of bench pressing and really working on my core strength and core movement. I had some issues with my back last year, and me and my team wanted to make sure my body was in the best shape possible, for Australia. As you know I have Larry on my team now, he has added some new dimensions to my fitness. I have been doing some kick boxing, to help with my movement and reflexes. It has really helped to strengthen by thigh muscles. He also introduced the dreaded sand hill drills, they make me shiver thinking about them. David and I every morning, and late evening run up them, it is painful but once they are done its worthwhile.
Has Larry rejuvenated your love for tennis and training Venus?
Venus- Tennis is my life Neil, that love and drive for winning never left me, the last two years have been really unfortunate. As in 2010 I was beginning to dominate again, that year I wanted to win the French Open so badly, I was doing well in the clay events, I won Acapulco, Final Of Madrid and Quarters of Stuttgart. Then I got to the 4th Round and lost to Nadia Petrova, I was shattered, I felt really low, so I would say Larry is helping me overcome these mental demons, the love for tennis was always there, maybe sometimes you can want something to much. In terms of training, he is probably making it more fun and yet more challenging at the same time. Im 32, my body is obviously more fragile, and it is important that I am at my complete physical peak when competing, to help reduce the chance of injury. In that area he has really helped me.
So what key aspects have you been working on during the off season?
Venus:-I can truly say all aspects have been worked on, I have tried to give focus to all areas, especially ensuring my movement is very good. These girls are getting stronger and faster, it is vital that you keep improving to keep up with them. However I have been really trying to improve my second serve this year, with my back injury I learned that placement is so important, power maybe isnít always best. Off course my serve is always going to be powerful, it is my money shot, however diversity is vital. I want to play more doubles as well, I feel it helped me improve so much since my time away. It helped my net play, I love at the net, I will be trying to get there as much as I can, its where I feel most comfortable.
You mentioned that Larry helped you with your mental game, in what way?
Venus:-My father always talked to me about mental lapses which I took on court, I sometimes can begin to back off, and lose the winning position which I had. I have analysed a lot of matches which I have lost, right back from 2000, it was important to see what I was doing wrong, and I noticed that actually I was doing similar things in these matches. In order for me to win more grand slams I need to off course me in top physical shape but I have to stay in these matches mentally, I have to do that for 7 matches, over a best of 3 set scenario. My team and I are really trying to work on that, I have done it 7 times before I want to do it again so badly, the drive and enthusiasm is possibly even stronger than it has ever been.
Is the Slamís your main focus this year then Venus ?
Venus:-My main focus this year is to be prepared both physically and mentally for each tournament I enter. In tennis you never know which year is going to be your last, and since being diagnosed with Sjogrenís Syndrome, I have learned to be blessed with the gift I have been given and the job I have. My main focus is to enjoy every match, and feel that I gave 100%, and have no regrets. However my real goal is to win both The Australian and French Open, however im not picky I will take any slam, it would be nice to complete the career slam though. Serena always said she wanted everything I had, maybe itís time for the Big Sis to snatch a few of Serenaís awards (laughs).
Are you looking forward to the 2013 season and what is your main goal ?
Venus:-I look forward to every season, as they all bring different challenges and new endeavours. This season will be different as there has been some changes, however I looked forward to what it will bring. My immediate goal is to get inside the worldís top 20, Iím at 24 and have no points to defend in Australia. I think that could be achievable, and I would love to get back into the top 10 this year, however I have to start winning more titles, and having deep runs in the slams, I am focused and ready to do what is necessary. If it means staying out for 4 hours on court fighting to win a match, it has to be done. Each year is a new chapter in your life and it gives you another chance to rewrite some history books. Letís see what 2013 will bring (massive smile)
Thank you Venus, it has been a pleasure. Good luck for the new season, all the tennis fans are rooting for you.
Venus:- Thanks for the support, I look forward to talking to you soon, and have a Merry Christmas, and a prosperous new year.