Martina N's-Interview in the NY Times
All for Partners
Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON
Diane Von Furstenberg is designing outfits for Venus Williams and turning the tennis court into a fashion runway. Has any designer approached you?
Let's not go there. No designers have approached me. I can't even get an endorsement for wearing clothing. Once you hit 30, they don't want you.
You just won your 20th Wimbledon title at 46. And we're looking forward to watching you in the U.S. Open in the coming weeks.
Forty-six is ancient for an athlete. You'd think advertisers would want me because they would be trying to hit the middle-age market. Women my age are the ones who are buying clothes -- they have the money and the kids. But I guess the advertisers haven't figured that out.
It's true. You've become an American symbol of staying power and middle-aged glamour. But you know advertisers: they're not exactly free thinkers. They're probably terrified of your public statements about your life as a lesbian.
Actually, I do have one big deal. I am still a spokesperson for Subaru. I also have a deal with Prince rackets. But let's put it this way: Wheaties hasn't called.
Would you like to see the United States legalize same-sex marriages?
It's just a matter of time until it happens. The right wing, the Christian right, is saying that the majority of people are against gay marriage. But since when has any social issue been pushed forward by popularity, by a majority?
The Vietnam War was probably the last time dissenters formed any kind of majority in this country. So many distinguished priests were part of the antiwar movement.
And look at them now! You see the Catholic Church denouncing gay marriage when they have been doing worse in their own church. And never mind how they behaved during World War II! The Holocaust didn't bother them. But gay marriage bothers them. I think they should clean their own house before telling me how to clean mine.
You speak about the church with the fervor of a lapsed Catholic.
I'm not any religion. I don't know if my mother is Catholic or not. But I believe in the existence of a higher power. I believe there is one big God out there. I don't go to church. It's how you behave in life, not whether you go to church and pray, that makes you a worthy human being.
Do you think you are worthy?
Only the greater power can judge. When people say, ''You are going to hell for this,'' I think, let whoever is up there decide.
You've played the Williams sisters in doubles matches and lost. Do you think you can beat them at doubles?
I would love to play them again. Of course I know I could beat them.
Can you disclose your battle plan? Are you hiding any weapons?
Venus and Serena are great singles players, but at doubles they are not so great. They don't volley as well as other players, and that's something you can exploit in a doubles match. The hardest part is getting to that volley, because they hit such hard serves. They are so powerful it is hard to get into a rally with them.
Some people say athletes are overpaid.
With tennis, it isn't like baseball where the money is guaranteed. You have to win matches to get paid. And then you have to pay your own way. Hello! You pay your airfare. You pay your coach. What do we get at Wimbledon? Two hundred dollars per diem. It doesn't even cover your hotel.
The British are so cheap.
Even here, tennis players do not make great money. If you give lessons, you earn $100 an hour, and you make more money as a teaching pro than as the 50th-best singles tennis player in the world.
You teach? Where can I sign up for a lesson?
No, I don't teach. I have made enough money so that I don't have to work the rest of my life. But I'm still playing. I spend eight or nine months of the year on the road.
Do you find it lonely living out of hotel rooms?
Not really. I have a dog in my life right now, a traveling dog, Chloe, a Chihuahua. And I travel with my own soft pillow. So at least my head is on the same pillow every night of the year.