Venus on Violence, volleys and virginity -
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old Jan 7th, 2009, 03:58 AM Thread Starter
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Venus on Violence, volleys and virginity

I was searching through the internet looking for old pictures of Venus on the court, when she jumped up and hit that overhead smash at Wimbledon when she was about 4ft off the ground, and I came accros this article and found it very interesting. I apologize if this has been posted before, but Venus talks about some things she usually keep quiet about.

Venus on violence, volleys...and virginityBy LIZ JONES, Daily Mail
Last updated at 11:34 27 June 2006

Comments (8) Add to My Stories Venus Williams: I am totally focused
Here I am, sitting waiting for Venus Williams in a hotel room overlooking Wimbledon Common, not long before she is due to step out on to Centre Court to defend her title, and she is already an hour late.

I keep getting texts from her manager/PR/agent giving me updates ? Venus is still on the court. Venus is in the shower. Venus is getting in the car, ooh, no she?s not. Venus is definitely on her way.

At long last, she bounds into the room, in head-to-toe white towelling tracksuit and snowy sneakers, waist-length hair in braids whiplashing all and sundry, and she gives me a great big wet kiss.

'I am so, so sorry,? she says in her slow, soft drawl, grabbing an armful of grapes (she is always, always hungry). ?I was working on my shots and I lost all track of time.?
Not many multi-millionaire, spoilt, cosseted superstars apologise for being late, but as it turns out Venus is so controlled, so disciplined, so stifled and imprisoned by her own extraordinary talent that for all her wealth and fame and success (prize money alone won by Venus and her younger sister Serena is £60million and counting), by the time we?ve finished our long chat, I feel desperately sorry for her.

Take this exchange. What did you do for your 26th birthday (a few days ago)? ?Ummm. I think I was training. I get up real early, I train, I go to the gym, I travel some place, I eat and I sleep. That?s about it.?

But now that you?re in London, will you be able to go out and do some shopping, some sightseeing, have dinner in a fancy restaurant?

?I hope to maybe get to Nobu on Park Lane just once, but I don?t know if I?ll get the time off,? she says doubtfully. ?I definitely won?t have time for shopping, although the dollar is really weak at the moment so maybe that?s just as well.?
I ask if she wears make-up on court and she says no, maybe some eyeliner, but she is often too tired to take it off at the end of the day.

Like most fiercely competitive athletes, she comes across as incredibly meek and mild when off-duty, and is painfully keen to cause no offence to anyone. Yet there is an awful lot bubbling away just below the surface. She is like a coiled spring.

There was some doubt that she would play at Wimbledon this year, where she is seeded sixth, after her recent threat to strike, demanding equal pay with men (if she wins this year, she will pocket £625,000 to the men?s winner?s £655,000).
After the longest-yet women?s final last year, when she beat Lindsay Davenport, perhaps she should get more than the men, not less? She glances at her manager/agent still loitering in the room before saying ?Well, I don?t really want to talk about that. No comment? ? and I wonder, who on earth is she afraid of?
When it?s suggested that Venus never joins in the social side of the game, she raises her eyebrows (which are in need of a little tweezing ? ?No time,? she shrugs). ?I wasn?t aware there was a social side,? she says. ?I train and compete and go to bed. There isn?t room for anything else.?

What about the rumours that today she doesn?t have the drive to reclaim her number one slot? ?I haven?t lost my will to win,? she says, exasperated. ?My ranking in the world [and she reminds me she was the first African-American woman to reach number one], which is currently at number 12, is because I haven?t played as many tournaments as everyone else. Simple as that.?

Venus is so well-schooled in how she should behave in interviews that at first, when I venture how well African-American women are doing in the world, citing Condoleezza Rice and Beyonce Knowles and Halle Berry, she gives me the pat answer that she ?doesn?t see colour?.

She says that: ?Growing up, my heroes were Monica Seles and Boris Becker. I didn?t feel the need to have a black woman to look up to.? Was she always hankering after blonde hair like Barbie? ?I always felt pretty happy in my own skin,? she says. ?My first concern wasn?t really whether I was pretty or not.?
But when I dig a little deeper and suggest that the notoriously staid Wimbledon committee has, in the past, treated Venus a little bit shoddily in relegating her to one of the outside courts, she becomes angry.

?Listen,? she says, grasping my arm. ?When I am out on the court, I am totally focused on my game. I am not even aware of the crowd. It doesn?t even enter my field of awareness how I am received. Having come through, at the age of six or seven, practising with my sister on a court in South Central LA while getting shot at by gang members, I don?t think a bit of coolness is going to affect my game.?

Does it bother her when pundits sneer that the women?s game is now so fiercely competitive that she and Serena are ?frequently found wanting? and can?t possibly keep up? That their strokes are so technically bad and home-made (both girls were coached by father Richard, son of a share cropper from Louisiana)? Or that the sisters are in ?terminal decline? and will both run to fat from too much fried chicken?

At this point, Venus bats back a challenging question. ?Do I think that is racist?? she says, tossing her braids and jabbing one of her long, manicured fingernails at me. ?Tell me. What do you think??

By the expression on her face and by her body language, I infer that she does feel she?s been treated unfairly in the past. For example, there are plenty of girls from the Eastern bloc on the circuit who also came from nothing, but, unlike Venus and Serena, they are not labelled ?ghetto princesses? in a constant reference to their cultural heritage. ?I live in the real world,? she says, suddenly looking exhausted. ?I knew that the only way out for me was to play tennis, or run track, or become a model.?

Otherwise, she could have ended up like her half-sister, Yetunde. ?Yes,? she says, a shutter coming up over her face. ?Just like my sister.? And so Venus begins to talk about the tragedy in her life that perhaps forced her to rethink her commitment to the game, and to wonder if she can ever really escape where she came from.

Yetunde, Venus and Serena?s sometime personal assistant, was murdered in September 2003 ? the 36th person to be murdered in South Central Los Angeles that year.

Yetunde hadn?t followed her family to Florida ? they left when Venus was eight or nine ? choosing instead to stay behind, having a son with Jeffrey Johnson, a member of the notorious Bloods gang. She left him when he was jailed for assaulting a policeman.

Yetunde was sitting in a car outside a house used by gang members, when she was shot by a rival gangster. Was the phone call that told Venus her sister had been murdered something she had, in a way, expected? Venus shakes her head sadly.

Like her mother, Oracene, she is a Jehovah?s Witness. Did her elder sister?s death make her question her faith? ?No, it was just fate. It happens all the time, to so many people.? Did she feel guilty that she hadn?t done more to help? Couldn?t she, after all, with all her money, have forcibly wrestled Yetunde from the life she was living, protected her somehow.

?You know what, I don?t feel guilty. It would be pointless to feel that. I am less judgmental now, I think. I think of her every day, I try to remember her laughing.?

Venus took eight or nine months off from the game to mourn. She also used that time to help her mother fight a custody battle for Yetunde?s children. ?Happily,? she says, ?that is all resolved now.? Did their mother get ustody? ?She did. We won,? she says.

Venus says she never felt the need to rebel, has never, once, behaved like a diva, and the worst thing she can think of to tell me is that: ?Sometimes, I get up when I want to get up. I have a lie-in. How bad is that??

She is already past the age ? 22 or 23 ? when her father had
predicted she should have already retired from the game and gone to college. He famously said that he didn?t want a pair of ?gum-chewing illiterates? on his hands.

?I?m not quite ready to retire yet,? she smiles. ?But yeah, there are so many things I still want to do. Design my own label, go travelling. I have been to so many places around the world, but I never get to see beyond my hotel room, and a gym, and a narrow corridor, and a tennis court.

?I would love to go to Africa. That?s my dream. There are so many kids there who, I think, know of me and would listen to what I have to say.? She is supporting the American Express RED Card initiative (part of Project Red, a charity started by the rock star Bono. It will mean that American Express, not the customer, will donate 1.25 per cent of every pound spent towards supporting women and children affected by HIV and Aids in Africa).

'I'm single,' she shouts
Venus says it is a cause close to her heart. She has always been very vocal about the fact she doesn?t believe in sex before marriage and I ask her if she is dating at the moment.
?I?m single,? she shouts, giving a booming laugh, ?and Serena is too, so maybe we should double-date.? Is it hard for her to meet men? Are they intimidated by her? She guffaws. ?It?s not that hard,? she says, ?although I never meet men on the circuit, I tend to meet them back home in Florida. It is hard to find someone who is as tall as me, though (she is 6ft 2in), so I don?t have to wear flat shoes.?

Recently she was seeing an Italian film director, and I ask if she is still a virgin and she almost chokes. ?Let?s just say I don?t want to go there,? and I see a twinkle in her eye. Come on, Venus, have you done it yet? She squirms like a teenager.
She denies being lonely, holed up in her little house in Wimbledon village. I wish her luck as she signs two tennis balls for me in her careful handwriting, and she goes back to her routine of eat, sleep, train, gym, practise. She is a giant, immensely likeable, shy child-woman whose career has been a cocoon as much as a vehicle to untold riches.
I hope she gets a life outside the court. She so deserves it.

Last edited by virtue05; Jan 7th, 2009 at 04:22 AM.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old Jan 7th, 2009, 04:01 AM
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Re: Venus on Violence, volleys and virginity

Loving the alliteration.

Ivanovic * Kvitova * Serena
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old Jan 7th, 2009, 04:26 AM
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Re: Venus on Violence, volleys and virginity

Very interesting read!

I wonder how much of this article, though, is sort of manipulated and jerked around by the writer. Some of the quotes from Venus are surprising for her in that they are bolder, more opinionated statements than she usually makes.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old Jan 7th, 2009, 04:51 AM
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Re: Venus on Violence, volleys and virginity

I'd bet the farm that Venus is a virgin. I wouldn't say the same thing about Serena, but it would still surprise me if she were not a virgin.

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old Jan 7th, 2009, 04:58 AM
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Re: Venus on Violence, volleys and virginity

Originally Posted by Leo_DFP View Post
Very interesting read!

I wonder how much of this article, though, is sort of manipulated and jerked around by the writer. Some of the quotes from Venus are surprising for her in that they are bolder, more opinionated statements than she usually makes.
I agree, something seems "a little off" about this article.

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old Jan 7th, 2009, 05:32 AM
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Re: Venus on Violence, volleys and virginity

^^ agreed.

Thanks to the OP but the punctuation is challenging, (maybe I'm the only one seeing "?" marks all over the place). Its a different take on Vee, but seems contrived.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old Jan 7th, 2009, 06:35 AM
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Re: Venus on Violence, volleys and virginity

Originally Posted by mboyle View Post
I'd bet the farm that Venus is a virgin. I wouldn't say the same thing about Serena, but it would still surprise me if she were not a virgin.
If either is a virgin, I seriously doubt Venus is the one. You know what they say about the quieter ones. lol

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old Jan 7th, 2009, 06:44 AM
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Re: Venus on Violence, volleys and virginity

Yeh nice read but it does sound weird

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old Jan 7th, 2009, 09:54 AM
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Re: Venus on Violence, volleys and virginity

She is such a lady

I hope to maybe get to Nobu on Park Lane just once, but I don't know if I'll get the time off, she says doubtfully. I definitely won't have time for shopping, although the dollar is really weak at the moment so maybe that's just as well.
I guess Oracene has been buying too many hats !
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old Jan 7th, 2009, 10:35 AM
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Re: Venus on Violence, volleys and virginity


21 and counting...
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