There is a long article/interview with Venus in my local paper reprinted from the brit Daily Telegraph with the above title. Has it been posted before? I can't seem to find it on their website or anywhere else.
Venus bounces BACK TO EARTH
by Sue Mott
Venus Williams is single. "Single, single, single," she added. This was not an advertisement. The elder tennis-playing Williams sister and reigning Wimbledon champion is perfectly at ease with her singleness. "Serena and I joked that we were going to get T-shirts printed. 'I'm single and so is my sister Serena. 'I'm single and so is my sister Venus.' See? I'm all lovely and single." Next question. Is she as single-minded about tennis? Williams, V, seems to drift in and out of tennis like an absent-minded professor.
Sometimes she is dramatic, dauntless, irresistible, adamant. She was exactly like that at Wimbledon last year, emerging triumphant from a fabulous see-saw final against Lindsay Davenport to earn her first Grand Slam title since 2001. At other times she seems barely awake, marginally interested and might offer in reply to an urgent question the small noise: "Mmm". It might as well be: "Zzzzz".
In view of this fact, any meeting with Venus, on tennis court or off, is a challenge. Which one are you going to get? The arrival is key.
Is it the sleep-walk or the bounce? Thank God, here she comes and it's the bounce. The nutty bounce. Venus does nuts better than most.
I said she looked older than last year. "You think so? It depends how my hair is. If I haven't got my hair braided, when I'm all afro-ed out, I look 12 years old. I absolooootely feel 12 years old inside. I'm very silly. Ha, ha, ha." Her laughter is real and raucous. "Serena and I, neither one of us is sensible. Neither of us takes life seriously. I mean when I was in Rome, I fell in love with this panda."
Oh no, not animals again. The last time we had met, in Monte Carlo, she had been in love with a dog so small it fit in the saucer of her teacup. How on earth had she come by a panda?
"This panda car!" she explained, referring to the Fiat Panda. "I love the Panda. I kept taking pictures of souped up Pandas. It's really very, very foolish. But I want one in red. Or bright green."
All in all, we should be delighted to receive her back at Wimbledon this year, a full-blown character, in defence of the title she won so spectacularly against her fellow American, 4-6, 6-7, 9-7. "I'm still excited about the final last year. It really came down to the wire. It's great to be part of a classic. I don't know how I did it but it was awesome. It was fantastic.
"I'd been in five finals since my last Wimbledon win, and that's really not a bad result. Obviously, I'd run into that Williams character (Serena) who beat me every time. So it was nice to go full circle and be champion again. Not many people win it once. Let alone three times. I'm very blessed and privileged.
"I guess the third was the most special. The trophy I keep by my bed. The other two are in the trophy room at home, but I keep this one out because it was real hard work. They all are. You have to step it up to win a major, that's for sure. But that one was just legendary. When I retire and have kids, I'm gonna tell them: 'I was part of this legendary match.' Oh, I'm going to sound like a broken record."
The victory came at just the right time to halt suspicions that her power and interest had ebbed away from the sport for good. "Uh, it's kind of funny to find out from an external source what's going on in your life," she said with a full dose of irony. "The one thing I learned last year with Serena taking the Aussie (Australian Open) and me taking Wimbledon, don't count a Williams sister out.
"I knew I could do it. When I walk on to a court, there aren't that many people who can do much better than me. At the end of the day, it's a matter of errors am I going to make and whether the opponent is going to be the recipient of" - she heaved with a sigh - "Christmas like generosity on my part." This is very true. Her concentration seems to suffer lapses of Henmanesque proportions. She disagrees. "It's not about concentration. It's just that I don't hit with a lot of spin. I work on it, but I dunno, man. (Sigh) I have a high-risk game. When I go off, I go off. I mean this year, I lost in the first round of the Aussie Open.
"Then in Warsaw I had a strep throat and in Round 2 against Martina Hingis I got a full lower body cramp, so that was crazy. In Rome, I sprained my ankle and I was on crutches for two days. I said to my physio in Paris, one more problem and we head straight to Capri on vacation. Ha, ha, ha."
In fact, she managed the quarter-finals at the French Open without any further physical misadventure, eventually losing to 17-year-old Nicole Vaidisova from the Czech Republic. It was not a great result. But on clay, it ranked up there as encouraging.
"Hi, Daddy," she said suddenly, as Richard Williams, her father, sporting a distinguished head of silver hair, walked past. "You look nice." "You look nice too," he said courteously.
"Thank you very much." Well brought up, the Williams girls. Their father forbade them to watch anything on television bar educational programs. "So we watched other stuff when he left and quickly switched it back to National Geographic when he came back again."
That part sounds reassuringly normal, if abnormal is the way to describe one family producing two female Wimbledon champions when Britain has been waiting since the Jurassic period for just one.
Abnormal, in the nicest possible way, is Venus. "You know I have changed a lot. I'm older, wiser, more mature. But I think I've got more extrovert too. I learned a lot of things last year. I guess it happened after Wimbledon. Serena and I and two sets of brothers we've known since we were little went out one night and after that, I realized how many great people I have around me and how I didn't really stay in contact with them.
"So I started hanging out and meeting new friends. Then I went to a concert - in Houston during the hurricane – and a lot of stuff happened there, and, um, I learned I really needed to know a lot more about life, get out more.
“All of my life, I’ve studied, I went to my business, I trained. I was an overachiever. Still am. Now I recognize that part of me. I have to take everything to the max. I’m hardcore. I have to overload. I realize that now and try to do better with it.
“At that concert I made a lot of friends and lost a lot of friends. Because some people are not adult. They are children. Some people are true friends and some are not. I discovered I’m the most naïve person on earth.” This was all terribly intriguing. Lord knows what she was talking about. Fishing, I inquired whether this all involved a boyfriend.
“No! No! No! I’m single, like I said. No, it just made me realize I’ve been inside way too much. I thought of all the times Serena wanted me to go places and I said: “Nah! I’m staying home.’ If I was the slightest bit tired, I’d go to bed. I was just a grandma.
“To sum it up, I was way too grandmaish for my age.” Venus is 26, but has somehow managed to divide her time between being an old-age pensioner and pre-teen. She is trying to meet in the middle. Whether Serena is a help or a hindrance in this process is not easy to say. Last year they spent rain delays at Wimbledon making nine second videos on their cellphones in the locker-room to send to friends in the United States.
One titled The Blair Witch at Wimbledon Project involved Venus leaping out in front of camera and shrieking “Yea-ahh-hh.” This should have gone down well with Maria Sharapova. Not.
She misses her sister, currently practising in Florida for a low key comeback mid-July. “I would like to have her here more than anything.” The official line is that Serena has a knee injury. Some people wonder if her six months absence from the Sony Ericsson Women’s Tour owes more to the lure of distractions. “No,” said Venus.
“She is not quitting the day job. We want to be the Williams Sisters On Tour again.” Given her own revitalization, the look in her eye that says I-actually-love-doing-this-after-all, it may be that her younger sister is similarly reactivated one day despite her flirt with Hollywood.
“Tennis is my marriage,” said Venus. “I think I’ll be playing beyond my 30th birthday. I’ve had so many injuries that I may be blessed by longevity. I haven’t played as much as other players. I still love to win. I treat losing with disbelief. ‘V will do better next time.’ That’s what I say. It’s my new thing. ‘V Will!’ I told you, I’m really silly.”
This is certainly not some woman who is disillusioned with her sport. She may find the practice a little repetitive for someone of her eclectic taste in activities (clothes, design, interior decorating, lyric and music writing and shopping), but tennis has definitely reclaimed her attention.
Despite her obvious long-term need for grandchildren to bore about her 2005 Wimbledon final, she is postponing a husband for the time being. “I think it would be nice to finish my career first.” “Don’t think for a moment it’s because boys are hard to find. “No,” she said that one with a grin. Or even that being rich, famous and good-looking intimidates would-be dates. “Well, hey, some will fall by the wayside, but the strong ones will push forward with pride.” The suitors will certainly have to do that and good luck to them.
In the meantime, one of Williams’s closest relationships is with Daphne. “we have a bad relationship, but I love her.” Daphne is three years old, dark blue and her Range Rover. “Oh, she acts out. One time I was leaning over to get something and key thing to the glove box popped right out and hit me She’ll do things like, the window will go down and it won’t go up again. So I’ll have to turn the engine off and on again. Or she won’t recognize the disc in the CD player. We’re always fighting.”
This is not to say Williams is madly materialistic. She can only be described as heroically philosophical about the amount of stealing that goes on from her wardrobe at the home she shares with Serena in Florida. “The only way I’m going to sort it out if I have a padlock on my closet with a secret combination and voice recognition. And Serena is not the only one. My shoes got kidnapped to L.A. by Lyn.”
Lyndrea is one of her elder stepsisters. There were five sisters, now four since Yetunda was tragically caught up in an L.A. gangland shooting in September 2003.
Her mother Oracene, successfully applied for custody of Yetunda’s three children and they stay with aunties, Venus and Serena, on a regular basis. It’s no picnic.
“I give them assignments. Or I’ll call a Spanish teacher to come over and give them a lesson. Like I say, I’m an overachiever. I’m going to be the same sort of mother that my mother was.. When she gave you the eye, that was it. We were frightened. I’m only just over being frightened now.”
Part of the behavioural equation is her interpretation of the Jehova’s Witness religion.. “I try to be the best person I can. I try to put God first. I’m not perfect but I try. I try to be a good example to people around me. If I’m wild, that’s a bad example. I’ve had a great life because of that. I haven’t had to worry about what’s real and true because I feel I already know. I think that’s why we have so much fun.
“In tennis, we want to conquer it all. But not to the point where it makes us unhappy.” As for conquering Wimbledon 2006, last year was a stunning surprise, swimming against the tide of almost universal expectation.
This year, distinctly possible. The bounce is back. “I feel very much a part of the Wimbledon tradition. I feel part of it like Borg, McEnroe, Sampras, Navratilova, Graf. I wish I had an English accent. But if I made one up, that would be a little weird. People would think: ‘That girl’s bananas’!”
I’ve got news for Venus. But wisely decide to keep it to myself.
The Daily Telegraph