Below is an article that I have posted on my website. It's from 2002, but it's one of my favorites. Commentary is from an NBC reporter during the Sydney Olympics, when Miss V won Gold <img src="smile.gif" border="0"> This was written before the gold medal match, though.
<br />SYDNEY -- Inspiration is a funny thing.
It has no standard form or shape. It can be the lyrics of a song, the smile on a friendly face, some words of encouragement shouted from the stands, or a lingering memory.
When Venus Williams finds herself down and not playing particularly well, she reaches into her bag. Among the extra towels, wristbands, shirts and rackets are a couple of handwritten notes.
"They are reminders," Williams says. "I usually read those if I play especially bad (They) keep your mind in the match focused I read them and (my mind) stops wandering around It's a good thing."
And what was written on the note a television camera caught her glancing at during a recent Olympic match?
"It said 'You are the best,'" Williams says. "They say things like that Or they say things like, 'You're standing too tall.' Sometimes, being tall, I tend to stand up too high."
Whatever the notes say, they have been working their magic lately.
Williams ran her consecutive match win streak into the 30s at the Sydney Games. While that pales in comparison to the 74-match streak run up by legend Martina Navratilova, it still deserves attention.
"You can't expect to play every match perfect and every day to be your best," Williams says. "But as long as you come through, I think it shows some guts and some courage. And a win is a win. That's all that counts in the record."
"Thirty wins is pretty nice, and for it to continue to the gold would be prefect. But all good things come to an end."
Williams says she doesn't expect to ever surpass Navratilova's record.
"I just think the field is much tougher these days as far as competitors," she says. "As far as people who are playing, (people) are much more athletic, training harder. Every match is a tough match."
The streak also has showcased Williams' consistency, a characteristic she values greatly.
"Consistency right now is really important because I'm trying to become No. 1," she says. "Right now is the point in time for me to improve and be consistent at all times, so that way I can prepare myself for the top position."
And where would winning an Olympic gold medal rank for Williams, the 2000 U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion?
"It's (the importance of the Olympic gold) definitely grown on me with every match, because everyone has come here playing their best," she says. "Right now, it seems like the ultimate thing is to win the gold. It's (winning a gold medal) a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I'm going to be 24 the next time (Athens, 2004), and who knows if I'll be here?"