Venus keen to fly, buy, Dubai
Venus keen to fly, buy, Dubai
|By A Correspondent | 17-02-2004
Venus Williams had one big regret during her first visit to Dubai two years ago. She had to leave.
No wonder, then, that she's back to once again bid for the Dubai Tennis Championships trophy, one of the few major titles to elude her.
"I had a great time and wanted to spend more time there," she said in an exclusive interview. "I wanted to spend more time in the market with the spices. I was kind of immersed in the culture. It was nice to kind of feel a part of something.
"At that time I was also really into looking at all kinds of antiques and I did that while I was there, but it was the local markets I really loved. I was dragging everyone around with me, to the antiques market and the artists market and the gold souk. Nobody wanted to go with me because they know I look at every single thing."
Certainly there will be more shopping to be done between matches when Venus competes against many of the world's best players at the Dubai Tennis Championships, which gets underway on February 23.
Owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, the prestigious WTA Tour event takes place under the patronage of General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Minister of Defence, UAE.
Her proposed return to Dubai has delighted organisers: "Venus is one of those players that only comes along once in a generation," said Colm McLoughlin, Managing Director of Dubai Duty Free. "She has become one of the most recognisable sports stars of either gender in the world and we wish her well for her comeback and look forward to seeing here in Dubai once again."
It was a frustrating 2003 for Venus, after she injured a stomach muscle while battling Amelie Mauresmo during the Warsaw final in early May. What she needed was rest and recuperation, but with the French Open and Wimbledon coming up she decided to try and fight through the pain.
It was a challenge she had no chance of winning, and she earned everyone's sympathy as she struggled desperately against sister Serena in the Wimbledon final.
She couldn't play again for the rest of the year, and that was hard to take.
"We kind of joked that I was unemployed and I had to go to the unemployment office and collect the cheque, that kind of thing," she said.
"But the toughest part would definitely be accepting that I had to stay out. I'm not the kind of person who accepts a circumstance. I like to make something happen for myself, and this was a case where I could not do more, no matter what I tried. Having to accept my limitations was very hard. I was never taught to say 'can't', but I couldn't."
When you're forced to take time off it's natural to let things slide a little. Venus did, and then found it difficult to pull herself back into her usual routine.
"I fell behind a few hours, because I'd wake up at 11. Normally I'm waking up at seven or eight, but I didn't go to bed the night before because I was with friends. I fell into a cycle and got lazy, so when it was time for me to start practising again I was having a hard time getting up," she admitted.
But it wasn't all just lazing around. Far from it.
"Besides that, I was in the office doing many, many things, taking care of things for whoever wasn't at home. And I had obligations to sponsors and photo shoot things all the time, and I would have to go places, be away from home. So it was nice finally to just relax and play tennis again, which is what I really want to do."
It was probably good to be out of the spotlight for a while. There's a price to be paid for fame, and Venus is someone you can't help noticing.
She's tall and an imposing presence. And she's famous. And when you're famous, people turn and stare and watch your every move. It's not very comfortable, and you always have to wear a public face. But Venus says she deals with it okay.
"Someone's always looking, someone's always listening, so if you don't want anyone to notice don't do it or don't say it," she reasons.
"Sometimes it's difficult to relax away from the tennis, but it depends how you present yourself. You can walk in the room like, 'I'm Venus', or you can walk in low key. That's what I try to do, just get in and out. No dancing on the table for me at parties. I can't do that any more. Just kidding."
And there's the hangers-on that celebrities attract.
"You definitely have to be careful about who's who and who's wanting what and what do they really want," she said. "There are people who want to know you because of who you are, but I have a great family and in essence that's almost all I need. Not everyone has that, so I'm fortunate and really blessed because I don't have to surround myself with people.
"But it's nice to go somewhere and someone doesn't know who you are. Obviously I don't remind them, and then I'm just a normal person, and that's nice."
It is clear that Venus has benefited from caring parents who have taught her to be modest and humble, despite her fame and fortune. But the most valuable lesson, she said, was to be truthful.
"Definitely for me it would be to always tell the truth, and to live your life in the way that you don't have to tell lies or to hide things. I've never had to do that and that's been nice. It might be more convenient to lie sometimes I guess, but I've never had to or wanted to. That's been good.
It's the way my mum always taught us, to live and stand for the truth."
That's a goal she's reached in life. What about on the court?
"I've reached a lot of my goals," she said. "I think when I get to the point where I have no more goals to reach, then I wouldn't have any reason to play. But I don't think I'll ever get there. I'm always looking to get more out of myself, to get better and stronger and more consistent."
And the next goal is to win the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open.
Got it from LTMN.