"WAY TO GO - VENUS" "YOU'RE OUR FIRE & DESIRE - YOU GOT IT" "THE NUMBER ONE FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER ON THE PLANET EARTH = PLANET VENUS" "LONG LIVE THE QUEEN OF PLANET VENUS" "AND YOUR SIDEKICK - 'LIL SIS" "I LOVE IT"
Venus: Planet of Love and Money
Venus is all about pleasure, especially pleasure shared with someone else. This Planet concerns itself with love, romance and harmony in our emotional attachments, marriages, friendships and other unions (like business partnerships). Venus is content to spread happiness and tenderness, all the while teaching us how to love and appreciate others and the things that we possess.
We appear attractive -- and we attract others -- thanks to Venus's energy. Socializing with and relating to others are important to this Planet.
Beauty is also strongly associated with Venus. The arts (music, dance, drama and literature, to name a few) and a sense of the aesthetic fall within the ream of Venus. Venus beseeches us to indulge our senses and revel in the beauty of our world. This Planet is inextricably linked to refinement, culture, charm and grace.
Venus also deals with the pleasure we derive from our possessions. Luxuries (jewelry, paintings, expensive cars), good food and drink, a beautiful home and a sense of refinement all please Venus's interests. This Planet asks us to appreciate the exquisite nature of things. It's a sensual -- though not necessarily sexual -- world as far as Venus is concerned.
Venus takes 225 days to complete its orbit of the zodiac; it is never more than 47 degrees from the Sun. It is a feminine energy and rules both Taurus and Libra and the Second and Seventh Houses.
Feb 21st, 2002, 03:25 PM
Venus Williams Height: 6-foot-1½
Weight: 169 Plays: Right-handed
Career Titles: 20 Birthplace: Lynwood, Calif.
Birthdate: June 17, 1980
Defended her title at New Haven by beating Justine Henin, Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport the week before the U.S. Open.
Successfully defended her Wimbledon title by defeating Belgian teenager Justine Henin 6-1, 3-6, 6-0 and predicted that Wimbledon would be a great place for her for years to come.
Won in Hamburg by defeating Meghann Shaughnessy, 6-3, 6-0 and in San Diego by defeating Monica Seles, 6-2, 6-3.
In the Ericsson Open final, came from behind to defeat Jennifer Capriati in a dramatic tiebreak in the final set, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (4).
Venus showed up at the Australian Open looking rusty on the court and in a new outfit that drew more attention at times than her playing. Venus fell to Martina Hingis 6-1, 6-1 in the semifinals as Hingis managed to beat the two Williams sisters back-to-back for the first time. The sisters got some revenge as Hingis and doubles partner Monica Seles lost to them in the doubles semifinal. The Williamses went on to win the doubles Grand Slam trophy, but both expressed disappointment in their singles performance.
Won ESPY award for Outstanding Women's Tennis Performer.
Won her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon by defeating Lindsay Davenport, 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the final after defeating her sister, Serena, in the semifinal. Davenport faced her again in the U.S. Open final and fell in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5 giving Venus her second Slam.
At the Sydney Olympics, she was the first woman to win a gold in singles and doubles (with sister Serena) since 1924.
Went on a 32-match win streak and won three other titles: Bank of the West Classic, Acura Tennis Classic, Pilot Pen. She also made the finals of the Generali Ladies Open, but this time Davenport was ready for her as Venus fell 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
Defended Lipton title, defeating younger sister Serena in the final to become the first sisters to meet in a WTA Tour final. En route to the final, she beat No. 4 Jana Novotna and No. 7 Steffi Graf, ending Graf's 21-match Lipton winning streak.
Earned her career first clay court singles title at Hamburg, including wins over Top 10 players Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in the semifinals and Mary Pierce in the final.
Won second clay court title in two weeks -- extending her red-clay winning streak to nine -- over Mary Pierce at the Italian Open.
Through the Australian Open, reached at least the quarterfinals at six Grand Slam tournaments out of eight career Grand Slam appearances, a more consistent start than all nine Grand Slam winners currently playing (Davenport, Graf, Hingis, Majoli, Martinez, Novotna, Pierce, Sanchez-Vicario, Seles).
Finalist at Hannover, including a three-set semifinal win over Steffi Graf where Williams served 12 aces, including one on match point, for her first win over Graf.
Won in Oklahoma City on February 28, the same day her sister, Serena, won the Paris Indoors, and they became the first sisters in professional tennis history to win singles titles in the same week.
On April 5 she and sister Serena became the first sisters to be ranked in the Top 10 simultaneously since April 22, 1991 (Manuela and Katerina Maleeva).
By winning the French Open doubles title with her sister Serena, became the first sisters to win a Grand Slam crown together in the 20th century.
In her Fed Cup debut, led the United States over Italy in the semifinals by winning both her singles matches and the doubles with sister Serena.
Through the U.S. Open, only two of her 10 losses in 1998 came to players ranked outside the Top 5.
Made the semifinals of the U.S. Open, losing to eventual champ Lindsay Davenport. Also advanced to the quarters at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.
Clocked a women's world record 127 mph serve in the quarterfinals of the Swisscom Challenge.
Won the Grand Slam Cup by defeating Patty Schnyder 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.
Won her second career singles title by beating Anna Kournikova in an all-teen final at the Lipton Championships.
Won her first singles title by topping South Africa's Joannette Kruger 6-3, 6-2 in the finals of the IGA Tennis Classic. Her WTA ranking jumped to No. 12.
The only unseeded player to reach the quarterfinals of 1998 Australian Open; won her second-round match over sister Serena; fell in quarterfinals in three sets to second seed Lindsay Davenport.
The bright young star in American tennis began the year ranked No. 211 in the world, but climbed up to No. 64.
She reached the quarterfinals of two tournaments.
At the Bausch & Lomb Championships, her serve was recorded at 108 mph, the ninth-fastest serve recorded on the tour that year.
Went 7-5 in her 12 matches after playing only seven matches since her professional debut in 1994.
Nearly upset Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in her professional debut at the Bank of the West Classic in Oakland. Williams held a 6-3, 3-0 lead over Sanchez Vicario, then ranked No. 2, but she couldn't hold on.
Went 7-5 in her 12 matches after playing only seven matches since her professional debut in 1994.
Won her first singles title, the IGA Tennis Classic, on March 1, 1998.
Managed and coached by her father, Richard.
Younger sister Serena is also a rising star on the women's tour.
Feb 22nd, 2002, 03:47 PM
I've been searching for the words that would truly express how I feel about Ms. Venus Williams these days. I mean - I've never felt that she had to reach the number one ranking on the WTA tour in order to receive every superlative I could possible think about heaping on her and her tennis playing. But since she has reached number one - I am another one that wishes to congratulate her on this wonderful feat.
Venus is one of the wisest women on the planet - and she has always stated that she would reach number one when she deserved it. She and her business managers always knew what it would take for her to gain the number one ranking. Yet - she refused to compromise her beliefs in order to be molded by anyone other than by her own efforts and God's. She has never minded that some people would talk about her and describe her in a way that was pleasing to their point of view and other's ears. She has continued to listen to her own heartbeats - and she has refused to let anyone take one baby step for her. And needless to say - she walks to the beat of her own drum.
Of course, she has come a long, long way from the times when she would spray balls - hit way too many UEs, etc. I used to try to will her to ensure she got her first serve in rather than going for the ace when she served, and/or going for the fast serve. For the most part - she has cleaned up her play and the methods she uses in strategically trying to hang in points longer, and until she can go for out-right winners. She will continue to win many tournaments as long as she plays the sport of tennis - and IMO - she will go down as one of the greatest tennis players of all times.
Venus has the heart of a champion. A champion needs to have plenty of heart and will in order to excel in anything a champ takes on. When one shows excellence in accomplishing any goal in life - whether it's sports or whatever - then one should feel proud when the said goal was achieved. And nothing to include - prejudice - discrmination or hate - can upsurp excellence where excellence lives. Venus is far from being a perfect tennis player or human being - but she can try w/all her might and will to achieve excellence in everything she takes on in life. She should feel proud of herself now for all of the accomplishments she's achieved in her short life, to include the WTA number one player. And whether she stays at number one a short or long time, loses it and gets it back - she will never have to prove what she is made of again - as it pertains to the #1 ranking. And neither does any other tennis player - past and present. They were all excellent for a time and in the sport of their choosing.
IMO - Venus has excellent brain power also, and she knows how to work it. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand and know that if one keeps winning tennis tourneys, and slams at that - then gaining the #1 ranking will not be far behind. Venus has always known this - and IMO - she has now truly proven it!
Take that you mealy (sp) mouth pundits and naysayers. Begone you haters and bashers. Ms. Venus Ebone Starr Williams is all up in the number one WTA tennis player's house, camp and throne. She is the Queen, and she will now take over the throne and sit her rumplestilskin on it. Begone all you other tennis subjects - because the Queen has arrived. And she ain't going nowhere and won't be turned around until she no longer deserves all the accolades, superlatives, shoutouts, praises, awards, trophys, endorsements and blessings that will and must be bestowed upon her as long as she stays very near the top in her chosen field. Long live and hopefully a long reign for the Queen VV! Lastly and in other words (IOW), I'm going to enjoy her presence on the tour - whilst I can!
"WAY TO HANDLE YOUR BIZNIZ - VENUS" "YOU RULE - ROCK - AND ROLL - IN THE FIELD OF TENNIS" "KEEP ON ROLLIN - RULIN & ROCKIN" "KEEP ON REACHING HIGHER & HIGHER GIRLFRIEND - CAUSE THAT IS THE ONLY PLACE WHERE THE TOP IS" "CONGRATULATIONS TO YOUR MOTHER AND FATHER FOR THEIR TEACHINGS AND COACHING" "I LUV U - AND THANKS FOR BEING U"
VENUS BEATS ANNA AGAIN - MONICA ADVANCES
DUBAI, 20 February, 2002
Venus Williams played her first match as the world number one even though it only takes effect officially on Monday.
For the second time in as many weeks in the second round of a tournament she defeated Anna Kournikova. Williams reached the quarterfinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships with a 6-3, 7-6 result and it was her sixth win from as many matches with the glamourous Russian.
"It's a good feeling to be number one but I am thinking of this week," said Williams. "This was a tough match and I didn't do all I wanted to. But with the number one, I want to give it my personal best and keep it as long as possible."
Ever since Venus and her sister Serena burst onto the scene their father Richard said they would be world number one. Serena beat Venus to the family's first Grand Slam title but now Venus is first to take number one, and Richard "was real excited and a little bit lost for words".
"I started believing I could do it when I was six and when I was six I also thought I could beat every player - John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, but my mother told me I could not play them," said Williams.
Kournikova meanwhile is starting to show the signs of a revival with her tennis after the injuries of 2001. She said when she started to play tournaments against late last year, she "didn't know which way to run", now it's a case of seeing things fall into place and "waiting for your chances". She realises it is not easy to come back and beat the top players straight away and expects it will take eight months to feel comfortable again.
"I need to get my match practice and not be afraid to go for my shots, it needs to come together," said Kournikova. "Physically I am well prepared and I can go a long time in a match and not get sore.
"You always want to come back as soon as possible but it's not that easy. I am improving my ranking every time, I have nothing to defend and I am looking forward to this year and hopefully being injury free."
Kournikova and Williams have both been impressed and surprised with Dubai. It's modern and vibrant and with both women enjoying shopping, the Amex has been taking a little bit of a beating. Kournikova said she consulted with last year's Dubai champion Martina Hingis before arriving in Dubai and revealed "she told me to go to the gold souk".
There was no horsing around for Monica Seles who joined Williams in the quarters however, she said she found it tough to control her returns in the windy conditions. Seles defeated Tathiana Garbin 6-2, 6-3 saying "there was so much going on on the court" that she had trouble getting into a rhythm, plus the Italian had taken an injury time out for blisters.
Seles says she has not had the time to really go sight seeing but has been impressed with what she has seen in Dubai.
"It's been great," she said. "The hotel is just amazing and I went to the (Sheikh's) stables. That was just beautiful and I have never seen anything like it, son it's been great so far and I hope I have a good week like last week in Doha."
The windy conditions also made it awkward for Amelie Mauresmo but overall she was pleased with her performance and was happy with the way she "adjusted" to it.
"I was a better player than her but she was dangerous at times and in the second set she had a few break points," said Mauresmo who is trying hard to shake off a heavy cold.
The Frenchwoman says her aim is to do well at the Grand Slams, in fact she is gearing herself up to win one, adding to that her goal is to be world number one, but that's a position Venus Williams has right now.
Williams now plays Anastasia Myskina, Seles faces Angeles Montolio and Mauresmo meets Tina Pisnik.
Feb 22nd, 2002, 04:03 PM
Weary Venus brought down to earth by Testud
AFP [ FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2002 9:43:14 PM ]
UBAI: Venus Williams failed to reach the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Friday when she was beaten 1-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 by fourth seed Sandrine Testud of France.
The top-seeded American made an impressive start and swept the first set in just 21 minutes despite suffering from the tendinitis in her left knee that has bothered her for some weeks.
It was no surprise when she called for medical attention after winning the set, and she was off court for 10 minutes before play resumed.
Unable to get the push-off she needed for her serve, the frustrated American eventually produced 14 double-faults.
Unable to maintain the momentum she had enjoyed in the first set, Williams struggled in the second.
But although Testud held a set point at 5-3 she had to wait until the tiebreak to level at one set all, and the deciding set also hung in the balance until the end.
Testud's best chance of victory came as she held three break points to lead 5-2, but instead she dropped her serve on her eighth double-fault and Williams went on to level at 4-4.
But Testud received another opening when Williams dropped her own serve on another double-fault, and she held off a break point to claim the match.
"Against Venus it's a little bit difficult because she hits the ball harder than anybody else, and you just try to hang in there and return as many balls as possible," said Testud, who had not won a set in their five previous meetings.
"But I took my chances today. I had a few opportunities in the second set when she didn't serve as well, and I had a few games on my serve that I played pretty good too," she added.
Williams was clearly disappointed by her defeat, and refused to discuss her injury. She also refused to concede that she had paid a heavy price for playing so many tournaments in recent weeks.
"I really don't want to talk about that at this point," she said of her injury.
"I feel really disappointed because I hate losing. She just played a lot better and there was nothing I could do about that. She played great tennis out there."
Testud will face either second seed Monica Seles or third seed Amelie Mauresmo in Saturday's final.
Feb 22nd, 2002, 04:06 PM
Weary Williams struggles as Seles sparkles
By John Roberts in Dubai
22 February 2002
Venus Williams, hampered by a recurrence of tendinitis in her left knee and "mentally exhausted", looked anything but the world No 1 elect as she struggled to reach the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Open last night.
After taking only 17 minutes to win the first set against the Russian Anastasia Myskina, 6-0, Williams became erratic and tottered for 71 minutes before edging through, 6-0, 3-6, 6-4. Myskina, ranked No 47, won the first three and last three games of the second set, and recovered from 1-5 to 4-5 in the third set.
Williams, serving for the match for the second time, having held two match points on her opponent's serve at 5-1, double-faulted to 0-30 in the 10th game before winning the concluding three points, Myskina netting a service return on the third match point.
"I'm doing my best to hold myself together," said Williams, who is due to play Sandrine Testud, of France, the fourth seed, today for a place in the final. "I can't comment about my knee at this stage," Williams added, "but I am wearing a tape and it has been sore. I was feeling drained, not exactly tired. I didn't feel I would lose the match. I felt I was losing my touch."
Monica Seles, seeded to meet Williams in tomorrow's final, has only dropped seven games in her two matches in advancing to the semi-finals, displaying the confidence that enabled her to win last week's tournament in Doha and the determination that wore down Venus Williams in the quarter-finals of last month's Australian Open.
Her opponent in yesterday's quarter-finals here, Angeles Montolio, is studying Arabic, but this did not help the Spanish seventh seed to read Seles's game. Seles won, 6-0, 6-2, after 47 minutes, and will now play Amelie Mauresmo, of France. Surprisingly, the two games that went Montolio's way were breaks of serve, at 0-2 and 1-5 in the second set. The problem for the short 26-year-old from Barcelona was that she could not cope with Seles's potent returns and aggressive play in the wind.
Montolio, who speaks six languages, though not all of them fluently, is studying Arabic as a hobby. Why Arabic? She pointed to script on a poster on the interview room and said: "I think it's like art to write like this."
Seles, aged 28, has experienced exhilaration and terror in her career, and we can only guess how long she would have reigned as the world No 1 but for being stabbed by a deranged spectator during the Hamburg tournament in 1993.
Enjoying her tennis, and still hopeful of adding to her nine Grand Slam singles titles, Seles was asked to comment on Williams' ascent to No 1 next Monday and the loneliness associated with being at the summit of the game.
"If Venus had played more tournaments she would have been No 1 before now," Seles said. "She plays terrific tennis and is a great athlete, which is a wonderful combination. I've always got on well with her sister Serena, and I've got to know Venus.
"I think things have changed. When I came on the Tour, I thought the isolation thing was the way to go. Steffi [Graf] went through it. And the year I pulled out of Wimbledon at 17 [in 1991] was particularly difficult for me. That year I had no friends, or maybe only 10 per cent.
"The early 90s were different, because two players were so dominant. Now there are five players fighting for No 1, and it's just terrific for the game. It makes things more exciting and less predictable. There was a time when the top player might lose one game in a year. When you lose 10 games in a year instead of one, it brings you down to earth.
"I was very impressed how Martina [Hingis] dealt with being No 1. She was so nice, so normal, for No 1. I have many friends in tennis now. Mary Joe Fernandez is a particularly good friend. There are at least 10 to 15 players I know I will be friends with even when we finish playing."
Feb 23rd, 2002, 03:21 PM
Williams, Seles bow out of the show
Gulf News; Feb 23, 2002
BY SUNIL K. VAIDYA
Venus (Williams) was eclipsed from the Dubai Duty Free Women's Open by Sandrine Testud, while Amelie Mauresmo ended Monica Seles's hopes of adding another Gulf crown, to set up an all French final today.
Both the Sanex WTA Tour semifinals yesterday at the Dubai Tennis Stadium were as different as weather during the first and second match. Testud's come-from-behind 1-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 win in an error-filled match against top-seed Williams came under blazing sun and slightly high temperature.
In cooler conditions late in the evening, Mauresmo and Seles were engaged in a tight battle that last just 62 minutes with the French girl winning 6-4, 6-3.
Williams was treated off court for nine minutes after her 21-minute first set 6-1 win. But restrained Williams later refused to delve on her injury instead paid tribute to her rival Testud saying the French woman played better than her.
"If you miss every shot, no way you can win a match," felt Williams. And, Williams did make errors galore even as Testud played unconvincingly, failing to grab her chances. Testud, perhaps, made less mistakes compared to Williams, who hit 14 double faults. The French veteran hit only eight in the match that last for two hours and ten minutes.
There were some shockingly hilarious services by Williams, known for her big services. Once she hit directly over the centre line judge and on another occasion the ball fell near her own feet after she completed her service.
Not that her trademark 187km/h aces were missing. She hit eight aces in the match. But it was lack of consistency that cost her the match. She broke Testud in the second and fourth games to win the first set that lasted only 21 minutes.
Interestingly, the only game that Testud won was a service break when Williams had two double faults.
Williams began the second set with a break in the first game, giving indications that she was in a hurry to finish the match. But that was not to be as five service breaks marked the second set which Testud won in tie breaker.
As if dispossessed of her powers (service), Williams struggled to put her first serve across the court or inside the service box. Thus she was broken thrice and Williams's big service deserted her in the tie breaker.
Probably sensing Williams's troubles with her injury and her struggle to get game going, Testud began to play better tennis and broke her rival in the third and ninth game but she her self made two double faults to drop the eighth. Testud had her chance to go 5-2 clear but Williams held her off.
The American saved two match points before Testud drove across a net cord from Williams to seal off her victory.
Mauresmo also hit a powerful cross court backhand to hit the final nail to complete her 62-minute demolition of second seed Seles. They played a tight first set until Mauresmo broke Seles in the tenth, which was more due to unforced errors by Seles.
The nine-time Grand Slam winner first hit the net and then slammed an easy volley out to hand the 32-minute set to the big-hitting French girl.
Packing a lot of power behind her flowing backhand shots, Mauresmo gradually took command with Seles finding hard to hit her first serve in. Seles had earned an early break in the first game but Mauresmo hit back with a break in the second game. A net cord in her favour saw Mauresmo break Seles again in the fifth game, which she held on to win the second set 6-3 in 30 minutes.
It was power and precision tennis at its best. There were a few opportunities which Mauresmo grabbed. "The first set was like a point here and there," Seles said later. She felt that Mauresmo was serving better. "I did my best and I am happy with it," Seles said.
"She (Seles) was hitting it hard and taking the ball early," felt Mauresmo. She pointed out: "I took occasions (read chances) though didn't have a lot of that."
And, the all-French final today would also go to the one who grabs her chances and holds service.
Singles Semifinal: Sandrine Testud (4), France, def. Venus Williams (1), United States, 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4. Amelie Mauresmo (4), France, def. Monica Seles (2), United States, 6-4, 6-3. Doubles: B Rittner and Mario Vento Kabchi bt A Widjaja and Su-Wei Hsieh 5-7, 6-3, 6-2; S Testud and R Vinci bt T Gabin and R Grande 6-3, 6-3
Womens' singles final: 7pm: Sandrine Testud v Amelie Mauresmo; followed by doubles final
Feb 23rd, 2002, 03:34 PM
WILLIAMS ALWAYS KNEW SHE'D BE BEST
Venus Williams says she never doubted she would one day become World number one.
The 21-year-old American will succeed compatriot Jennifer Capriati in the WTA World rankings on Monday after winning six titles in 15 tournaments, including the US Open and Wimbledon for the second straight year.
Williams is the 10th player to top the World rankings since they began in 1975.
"I've known I could be number one since the age of six," she said in L'Equipe on Thursday.
"I heard my parents telling me so many times that I would become the world's best one day and that I would write my name in every Grand Slam's records, that I ended up believing in it.
"At that time I even thought I would be able to beat John McEnroe.
"I knew I would make it, and I am very happy to have reached that level. I am glad for my father who always told me I would make it.
"I could have been crowned number one last year if I had beaten Capriati in the finals of the Miami event,"
"And also if I had not been knocked out of the French Open in the first round.
"I am aware I can lose the first place very fast but this is not a problem.
"I built a programme which pushed me to play a lot at the start of the season. I did not do that to become number one but just because I know that I can easily concentrate on my tennis at the start of the year.
"I also wanted to visit more cities in the world, I had never been to Belgium for example neither to the Emirates."
She has decided to take a break in order to be fully fit for the French Open in June, Wimbledon a month later and the US Open in August.
"I want to hold on to that top place but my priority is to be in top form for the Grand Slams.
"If I keep playing every week to keep my number one position I risk being knackered by the time I arrive in Paris.
"But if I concentrate on the last three Grand Slams of the year and win them all I will probably end up World number one again at the end of the season anyway."
Feb 23rd, 2002, 10:35 PM
"WAY TO GO - GIRLIE-GIRL" "YOU'LL ALWAYS BE #1 IN MY TENNIS HEART"
Williams to Become No. 1 Player
By Teresa M. Walker
AP Sports Writer
Saturday, February 23, 2002; 5:46 PM
Venus Williams is happy to say she did it her way.
She'll become No. 1 for the first time Monday, the first black player to hold that spot in the WTA computer rankings, and she's proud that tennis is not her only pursuit.
"I've enjoyed myself along the way," Williams said Saturday, "and I haven't limited myself just to playing tennis or made myself believe that was the only thing in life."
Williams' father, Richard, often has said that either Venus or sister Serena could have reached the top spot before now if that had been their top priority.
Instead, Venus has been busy taking college courses, enjoying life and scheduling her tennis around the Grand Slam tournaments.
"I just feel like I deserve it," she said.
"Being No. 1 and winning Grand Slams and winning titles, it's all about having a successful career. I've worked hard. I also deserve a few perks now and then."
The approach has worked.
Williams has 24 career titles, including four at majors – Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2000-01. She also won a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics.
Lindsay Davenport finished last year as the WTA's top-ranked player, despite not winning a Grand Slam event in 2001. That prompted the WTA to change its ranking system to assign more points to Grand Slam events and a handful of other top tourneys.
Williams will become only the 10th woman to hold the top spot since the WTA rankings began in November 1975, replacing Jennifer Capriati in a system that includes the past 52 weeks.
Williams becomes the first black tennis player at No. 1 since Arthur Ashe reached the top of the men's rankings in 1975.
"It would be foolish to forget Althea Gibson, also. She was the first," Williams said, referring to the first black woman to win Wimbledon, in 1957-58. "And more than anything, I just feel proud to represent America in my sport."
Williams already has won three tournaments in 2002, at Gold Coast, Paris, and Antwerp before losing in the semifinals at Dubai on Friday.
"I have had a long time on the road," she said. "I'm just looking forward to getting home and getting some rest with our family."
She'll take a three-week break, meaning she'll skip the tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., where she pulled out of a semifinal last year against Serena, citing tendinitis. The crowd booed the family and Richard Williams said some of the jeers were racially motivated.
Venus Williams returns to action next month at the Nasdaq 100 in Miami, where she is the defending champion.
"You don't aspire to be No. 2 or No. 3. Normally, you do your best to become the best," she said. "At this point, I am the best player in the world. That's exciting, and it's going to be mine at least a week."
Feb 25th, 2002, 02:53 PM
"YOU GOT TO NUMBER ONE YOUR WAY AND WHEN YOU DESERVED IT - VENUS" "ENJOY" "LUV U - XSISTERSX2"
Venus Williams No. 1 Teleconference
February 24, 2002
JIM FUHSE: Venus, congratulations on turning No. 1 on Monday. Has it had a chance to sink in yet, and do you have any special plans for celebrating it on Monday?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think my special plan would be just to get home, finally. It's been a long time on the road. I think I'm just looking forward to getting home and getting some rest with my family.
Q. I saw in your comment earlier this week that reaching No. 1 is a dream that started with your parents and then you took it over. How long have you wanted to be No. 1; and the way you've been playing lately, was it just a matter of time?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, you know, obviously, when you're on a professional tour, you don't aspire to be No. 3 or No. 2. Normally you do your best to become the best. At this point, I am the best player in the world, so that's exciting and it's going to be mine at least a week.
Q. The way you've been playing, has have you been in this kind of a zone in a while? The streak you had going in through the Open, and then winning the tournaments in the last month or so, have you been at this level in a while and how much more do you think you've got to go?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, more and more I've learned tennis is just mental and technical. As long as you have the mental game down, your techniques are solid, physically all you need is just your body to be there with you.
And physically has been one of my problems in the past. The past two months I have been able to play without pain and that's done a lot for me.
Q. A lot of people have talked about how you are the best player and you have been the last two years; yet, you have not really played a schedule maybe to make yourself in the No. 1 spot by not playing as much and going to school and everything. Has it really been that important and a focal point to you, or maybe winning the titles at Wimbledon and US Open take precedence; is that driving you?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Really, I think that if I had been No. 1 in the world and had not won any Grand Slams, it would be less of a significance. But having won Grand Slams, that really just makes it a lot more enjoyable, and I just feel like I deserve it. You know, being No. 1 and winning Grand Slams and winning titles, that's just all a part of having a successful career. I've worked hard; so I feel like I deserve a few perks there.
Q. A lot of us who live down in south Florida have known you from since when you were a kid have heard your father say you and Serena would be No. 1. Now that it has happened, what has his reaction been?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just think that he's head over heels. He's going to give me a few pointers to try to stay on top.
Q. How important is staying on top? You just said you'll be there for one week, but how important is it for you to keep it going?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, right now, it's just been great getting there, but it's another thing staying there. So I just have to be dedicated and more than anything, keep enjoying the game, because at any point it becomes a burden, at least to me, that's when it's a problem.
Q. Your dad's prediction years ago that you would be No. 1, certainly, one of thee boldest predictions that has ever been made in tennis history. Did you ever think -- did you ever think, 'Gee, I wish he had not done that, to just let me play'?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I never thought that. I thought he was telling the truth. I was just being the daughter of a proud father. And more than anything, I think he knew he put the work in and that he had -- we were listening to him, and I think that's why he had that confidence to say that myself and Serena would be Grand Slam Champions.
Right now, we are some of the best players in the game, I guess, in history, and I just think that I give a lot of credit to my dad for that.
Q. You obviously did not play a lot of Junior tournaments. You skipped a bunch of other tournaments and never altered from having your parents being your prime coaches. Is there an aspect of your career that you are most proud of, venus?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think the best part is that I've enjoyed myself along the way and that I have not limited myself just to playing tennis or made myself believe that that's the only thing in life. I've always been doing things at the same time and having a career; for me that's the best part.
Q. You and Serena obviously had a rough time in the desert last year. Can you sort of get real with us and tell us why you're not playing Indian Wells, a major tournament in a month or so?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, that was a year ago and a lot of things have happened since then. I think that myself, winning two Grand Slams, and the US Open Finals with Serena and I, and also, just being No. 1. So a lot of great things have happened since then.
Q. You did get pretty rough treatment there, is that the reason you're not playing?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, all in all, it was just basically an incredible scene last year in Indian Wells, but that's part of sports, playing with the good and the bad.
Q. I know you're not playing Indian Wells this year, but will you play Indian Wells again in the future?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I've always liked that tournament, and basically I had my first big break there in the desert; so some of my best memories are there . Actually, the first time I ever got in the quarter finals, I was like 200 in the world. I have a lot of great memories there.
Q. Also, with Indian Wells, you are not the only one who is missing. There are a few other top players who are going to be missing. This year, with adding more points toward Indian Wells, do you have any recommendations on what the Tour can do to attract more of the top players to their top events?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think normally Indian Wells has gotten a really great turn out. Most of the players love it, playing in the desert, with the great weather. And also, it's a combined event, which makes it more exciting for the fans, too. I haven't really seen the entries at Indian Wells at this point, but I don't think it's anything to worry about.
Q. Just would like to know what it means to you to be the first African American to be ranked No. 1 in the world.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, it would be foolish to forget Althea Gibson, also. She was the first. And more than anything, I just feel proud to represent America in my sport.
Q. As Wimbledon Champion and US Open Champion, it's a tremendous achievement to get to No. 1 in the world, as well. Monica Seles was saying this week that it's a very exciting time for women's tennis, because the No. 1 position is being handed around; it's not being kept by one person for a long time as it used to be. Do you feel that? Do you feel this is a very exciting time for women's tennis and that new players are coming to the No. 1 ranking all the time?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think it's a very exciting time. I really thought I had a chance to win in the quarterfinal, but Jennifer was able to hang on. Because of the points race, at this point, it's really just a coin toss. At this point, I'm just happy about my position.
Q. What would be your kind of one little expert piece of advice to anyone who aspires to achieve what you've achieved?
VENUS WILLIAMS: That would be to enjoy the day and enjoy the competition, because a lot of times, it's really tight. My second suggestion would be you'd better have good techniques; in the crunch, so you can rely on your techniques.
Q. Can you talk about how difficult it's been being away from home for so long, and what you've missed the most; and did you intend to be on the road since late December?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I did intend to be on the road. I gave my full commitment for the first two months of the year. I knew it would be really tough, and mentally I've prepared to not be at home. But I really miss my dog and I miss my family and I miss Serena, too. I miss the States more than anything. I did not get to go to the Winter Olympics; so I missed out on a few things, but in the end, it did help me out a lot.
Q. What's the first thing you'll do when you get home?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Eat some candy.
Q. I want to ask you, after Wimbledon, you said you were going to buy yourself a watch to celebrate. What are you going to get celebrate being No. 1?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I never got that watch.
Q. You never got that watch?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It was much more -- at this point, really, I will just kind of give a little pat on the back.
Q. And I want to talk a little bit what role the god, Jehovah, has had in reaching your goals?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think more than anything just help me keep things in perspective and knowing that tennis, it's not the only thing, the only hope I have in life. So that's really helped me a lot, to realize this is just for now and that there's always a later.
Q. And do you want to give a shout out to anybody at home?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Everybody in south Florida and thanks for supporting me.
Q. Are you playing the NASDAQ 100 Open?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I am and I can't wait to get there. Last year I had an incredible time and an incredible finals match against Capriatti. That was one of my most favorite matches I've ever played. I'm hoping to return there and get a chance for the title again.
JIM FUHSE: Venus' next event will be the NASDAQ 100 where she will be the defending champion. And Jennifer Capriatti, the runner-up, has also entered, so they will likely be 1 and 2 in the event. So, we will look forward to that.
Venus, thank you for participating and congratulations on No. 1.
Feb 25th, 2002, 07:09 PM
February 25, 2002
Minority of One
Her ascent to No. 1 finally realized, Venus Williams definitely followed her own path.
Computer wisdom finally caught up with conventional wisdom in women's tennis today.
This is why the news that Venus Williams officially became No. 1 isn't more of a blockbuster announcement. If you walked into any sports bar last week--managing to pull fans away from curling and hockey--and quizzed people about the top-ranked player in the world, undoubtedly, the answer would have been Williams, not Jennifer Capriati.
Surely, hadn't Williams been No. 1 already after winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open the last two years? And, if not, why had it taken so long? The computer is the partial culprit, much-maligned and all, but of course, not as much as Olympic figure skating judges or the bowl championship series. It artificially propped up Martina Hingis, who benefited by playing more and winning smaller, less prestigious events. Even Lindsay Davenport seemed slightly embarrassed by finishing last year ranked No. 1, admitting Williams was the true top player.
Williams, too, had something to do with the strangeness. She played a limited schedule last year, and no events after the U.S. Open because of the terrorist attacks and an injured wrist.
Just as quixotically, she took a different approach in 2002. Having been criticized for playing too little, she flipped that notion and has been in five tournaments the first eight weeks of the year.
Williams left her Florida home on Dec. 27 for Australia and has been on the road since, starting at Gold Coast, Queensland, winding through Paris and Antwerp, Belgium, and finishing in Dubai.
Call it coincidence or providence, but, in a larger sense, the timing couldn't have worked out better. Williams has become the first African-American, male or female, to be ranked No. 1 by their professional tennis association. Arthur Ashe reached No. 2 on the ATP's computer rankings in 1975, and Althea Gibson was ranked No. 1 in 1957 by a world panel, long before the WTA computer rankings started in 1975.
The historic moment arrived near the end of February, Black History Month. It came two days after another African-American player, Alexandra Stevenson--a childhood friend of Williams from their Southern California days--reached the tour final in Memphis, losing to Lisa Raymond. And it dawned only a day after another African-American, James Blake, played in the Memphis final against his Davis Cup teammate, Andy Roddick, also losing.
There were more than thoughts of Ashe and Gibson when Williams spoke about her latest accomplishment on a ragged phone line on Saturday from Dubai. An associate of Gibson's got on the conference call, warmly congratulated Williams, and said that Gibson wanted to personally offer kudos but was unable to do so.
"It would be foolish to forget Althea Gibson," Williams said. "She was the first. And more than anything, I just feel proud to represent America in my sport."
The dream--of winning Grand Slams and reaching No. 1--was not hers at the start. Richard Williams, her father, had the notion first when Venus and her younger sister Serena were growing up in Compton. He boldly predicted Venus would become No. 1. He even said Serena would be better than Venus, which did happen, briefly, when Serena won the U.S. Open in 1999.
"I thought he was telling the truth," Venus said of the No. 1 prediction. "I was just being the daughter of a proud father. And more than anything, I think he knew he put the work in and that we were listening to him, and I think that's why he had that confidence to say that myself and Serena would be Grand Slam champions.
"Right now, we are some of the best players in the game, I guess, in history, and I just think that I give a lot of credit to my dad for that."
Her mother and coach, Oracene, should receive just as much credit. She has been with her daughter since the start of this final determined charge toward No. 1. Increasingly, Williams has taken charge of her career as she has matured. At the Australian Open, she played through the pain of an injured knee, hinting she didn't consult her parents, and fought her way to the quarterfinals though hampered, losing to a resurgent Monica Seles.
Behind the scenes, she found support from her Italian boyfriend, Davide, who was with her in Australia as well as the European stretch and final stop in Dubai. It hasn't been easy. She played three consecutive weeks, the first time she had done so since October 1998.
In the Paris final, Williams defeated local favorite Amelie Mauresmo and took on another local favorite, Justine Henin, a week later in the Antwerp final. Williams has won three titles this year and lost in the semifinals to Sandrine Testud of France on Friday in Dubai.
"I did intend to be on the road," said Williams, who added the Antwerp tournament when she realized how close she was to No. 1. "I gave my full commitment for the first two months of the year. I knew it would be really tough, and mentally I've prepared to not be at home. But I really miss my dog ... and I miss Serena too. I miss the States more than anything. I haven't really had a chance to watch the Olympics, so I missed out on a few things."
Lately, the reigns at No. 1 have been short. Williams is the fourth player in the last five months to reach No. 1. Capriati, Davenport and Hingis are the others. Williams and her sister Serena will not be playing at Indian Wells next week, not surprising after last year's controversy, in which they were booed by the crowd. Venus pulled out of a scheduled semifinal against Serena because of an injury.
"Well, all in all, it was just basically an incredible scene last year in Indian Wells, but that's part of sports, playing with the good and the bad," Venus said.
Whether she is passed by Capriati this week in Scottsdale or by not playing at Indian Wells, Williams doesn't appear overly concerned. She reached No. 1 her special way, and why be any different now?
"I think the best part is that I've enjoyed myself along the way and that I have not limited myself just to playing tennis or made myself believe that that's the only thing in life," she said. "I've always been doing things at the same time and having a career; for me that's the best part."
Feb 25th, 2002, 07:16 PM
Williams looks back from the summit
In an exclusive interview, the Wimbledon champion and new world No 1 reflects on her predecessors at the pinnacle of the game
By John Roberts in Dubai
25 February 2002
Venus Williams may be the world No 1 today, but enough is enough. It was time to confront her with the injustice of there being two great tennis players in the same house in America, Venus and her younger sister, Serena, when there is not a single female contender to write home about in the whole of Britain. There ought to be a law against it. Two-player families should be banned.
She responded with a hearty laugh, prompting a change of tack in an attempt to dig up evidence of normality in the lives of the multi-millionaire superstar siblings. For example, do they, back home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, have a rota for the household chores or do they play it by ear? ("It's your turn for the dishes, Serena, and I did the vacuum cleaning yesterday...").
Venus shook her head. "No, we don't clean. Using a vacuum cleaner gives me a sore back. We do tidying. We keep our closets clean and all that kind of thing. But as far as dishes, I won't wash a dish. And Serena doesn't vacuum. We have a dishwashing machine, but I don't like those things."
Surely there must be points of contention off the court as well as on it? "Serena never buys groceries," Venus said. "I think I've spoiled her. I'll go to the store and I'll buy them, and I'll make sure the house is stocked with eats and drinks, everything. And I'll look in the fridge and say: 'I just bought three bottles of orange juice, where are they?' And I just bite my lip and buy more."
Serena may find the cupboards bare for the next week or so. Venus would like to "go into a little coma" on returning from the Dubai Duty Free Open to help her recover from "mental exhaustion", tendinitis and muscle strains after an early-season campaign which has enabled her to climb to the summit of the game, adding prestige to her $9.6m (£6.7m) prize-money, plus further millions from endorsements.
Venus Williams is the first African-American player to be ranked No 1 by the computer. Not even Arthur Ashe achieved that. So how old was she when she first thought about becoming No 1? "About six," she said softly, smiling mischievously and recalling her childhood on the park courts of Compton, California.
"When I was young I thought I could beat any player, I really did. I thought I could beat John McEnroe. I thought I was the tops. I thought I was everything. I found out I wasn't, but it was nice. My Mum and Dad said: 'So you think you can beat John McEnroe? Well, maybe you can do it'."
Asked to discuss the nine world No 1s who have preceded her since the computer rankings were introduced to the women's game in 1975 (five years before Williams was born), she said her knowledge of some was sketchy, starting with Chris Evert, the cool blonde from Florida who won 18 Grand Slam singles titles and spawned a generation of American baseliners.
"I only remember her last major match in her career [a loss to Zina Garrison in the quarter-finals of the 1989 US Open]. I was nine. That's when I first remember tennis. Really all I know about her is pretty much what I've heard, because I've never seen her play except in television clips."
Martina Navratilova, the nine-times Wimbledon champion, presents a sharper image. "She revolutionised the game, for sure, made people work harder. She was the forerunner of power tennis."
Navratilova said in her day people used to remark about her fitness, power and athleticism, but the 6ft 1in Williams has taken the game to a new level. "It is definitely a different game," Williams agreed. "I think it would be a shame if tennis had regrets, but just like everything else in this world, technology and all that kind of thing, everything's moving forward. So that's what's going to happen. After me there will be better girls, and I'll just sit back and watch it."
Tracy Austin, a teenage wonder with bunches in her hair and braces on her teeth, won the US Open singles title in 1979 and 1981. "I only know what I've heard about her," Williams said. "I've never really seen her play, except for one match on Classic Sports on television. Tennis has changed a lot since then. At that time she was the cream of the crop."
There is no doubt in Williams' mind about Steffi Graf, who in 1988 won a "golden Grand Slam" of the four major championships plus the Olympic Games singles title in Seoul. "She was really a great champion. Twenty-two Grand Slams. I've got four," she said in a mock whimper. "I was hoping to get a few more. I'm not sure if I'll ever get that achievement, but I've done well for myself. More than anything, I think Steffi really had the mental game down pat."
Williams also admires Monica Seles, the winner of nine Grand Slam singles titles, whose career was all but wrecked by a stabbing in the back by a deranged spectator. Seles remains a rival at the age of 28. "I really think she was one of the only ones to challenge Steffi Graf, because Steffi Graf was dominating the game and Navratilova and Evert and all the other players couldn't touch her. But Monica came along and offered the first challenge. So she did a lot for the game."
Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, the Barcelona retriever, a winner of four Grand Slam singles titles and twice a runner-up at Wimbledon, "made the best of her game and her abilities, and she gave it her all. When she gets to the end of her career she will know that she did everything that she could do."
Martina Hingis, unlike the Williams sisters, came through the junior ranks – she was 12 when she won the girls' title at French Open – and became the youngest player to win a Grand Slam singles championship (16 years, three months, 26 days at the 1997 Australian Open) since the 15-year-old Lottie Dod at Wimbledon in 1887. Hingis last won a Grand Slam singles title, her fifth, at the 1999 Australian Open. In spite of her clever game, she has struggled to overcome the bigger hitters.
"When Martina came on the scene people had a tough time figuring out her game, and that gave her a lot of success," Williams said. "More than anything, you can see that she loves winning, she hates losing, and that contributed a lot to her success. I think she came in at a great time. Steffi was injured, and the top player at that point was maybe Arantxa. Lindsay [Davenport] was still developing. I was in high school. But I think when Martina capitalised on her game that was a great time."
Lindsay Davenport, tall and powerful, worked hard to trim her figure and improve her mobility. She has been rewarded with three Grand Slam singles titles: the United States Open, Wimbledon and the Australian Open. "The thing about Lindsay is that she's always hit the ball, win, lose or draw. That's really the sign of a champion, someone who's going to go for it all the way. Eventually it paid off."
Jennifer Capriati, the troubled teenager who redeemed herself in her mid-twenties by winning the Australian Open and French Open singles titles last year, successfully defended the Australian championship last month, defeating Hingis in the final for the second consecutive time.
"Jennifer came back and made it happen at one of the most competitive points in women's tennis history," Williams said. "So that's no fluke at all. She's probably making a lot more of her decisions and doing things that make her comfortable."
Before the advent of computer rankings, generations of women players were acknowledged to be the best of their time. Among these was Althea Gibson, an African-American who learned the game on the public courts of Harlem, New York, and had to overcome racial prejudice before she could make her mark in the major championships.
The athletic Gibson was aged 28 when her breakthrough came at the French Championships in 1956. She went on to win singles titles at Wimbledon and the US Championships in both 1957 and 1958. Williams, who has talked with Gibson, is aware of the debt today's multi-milllionaires owe the pioneers, not least Billie Jean King, winner of a record 20 Wimbledon titles between 1961 and 1979 (six singles, 10 women's doubles and four mixed doubles), and a driving force in the campaign for equal prize-money.
"Tennis has a great history," Williams said. "I actually read Billie Jean's book [You've Come a Long Way, Baby]. I liked it a lot. I stayed up late reading it to finish it."
King's influence now extends to the United States Fed Cup and Olympic teams. "She's a great captain," said Williams. "I've never seen anyone who loves the game as much as Billie Jean King. I couldn't come close."
Williams' next major goal is to add the French Open to her roll of honour. "I've just had bad luck there," she said, "and I've made bad decisions. In '97 I just didn't know how to win. In '98 I tried to hit the ball too hard, because the previous time I played on clay I hit it too soft. In '99 I got over-confident. I had three match points. In 2000 I was just coming back from injury. My mind was there, but I just couldn't get my game to do what I wanted. I could visualise it, but I just couldn't do it."
Last year she lost in the first round to Barbara Schett, of Austria, 6-4, 6-4. "I had one bad day – finished. I couldn't hit a ball in that day. Grass, or hard court, or indoors, I wouldn't have won that day. I've just got to get myself together."
Like at Wimbledon. "Wimbledon's my first love. You could end your career after you win Wimbledon. A good result, semi-finals, is just not enough once you've won. I'm hoping to garner it for the next 10 or 15 years, just hold on to it, if I could," she said, hugging herself as if the Venus Rosewater Dish was right there in the clutches of Venus Ebone Starr Williams.
Feb 25th, 2002, 09:20 PM
awww. I think I'm about to cry.
thanks gogogirl. :)
Feb 26th, 2002, 11:09 AM
Lovely articles!! :bounce: :bounce:
*Tear in my eye* :D
Feb 26th, 2002, 08:45 PM
"GONE - VENUS" 'YOU'RE THE NUMBER ONE - CREAMATOR - AND THE NUMBER ONE LEAN - MEAN - CREAMING MACHINE"
Venus Williams can blow her opponents off court
By BBC Sport Online's James Standley
So the WTA rankings finally confirm what everyone has known for a while: Venus Williams is the finest female tennis player in the world.
Tall, powerful, intelligent and stunningly athletic, Williams' all-court game has long threatened to redefine women's tennis.
Williams is the first black woman to claim the number one spot since the rankings were introduced in 1975.
Along with Althea Gibson, who Williams name-checked on being awarded the number one accolade, Arthur Ashe was the first black tennis player to break through.
Number ones since 75
Steffi Graf 378 weeks
Martina Navratilova 331
Chris Evert 262
Martina Hingis 209
Monica Seles 178
Lindsay Davenport 37
Tracy Austin 22
Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario 11
Jennifer Capriati 9
Venus Williams 1 (and counting)
Ashe - an individual respected far beyond the confines of the tramlines - wrote in his book A Hard Road to Glory: "In every sport we (African-Americans) enter in large numbers, we change how it's played and coached."
Watching Williams jump on a half-court ball and dispatch it with immense power and unerring precision, it is hard not to agree.
Ever since a generation ago, when Martina Navratilova revolutionised women's tennis with her own brand of speed and power, the game has been changing.
The traditional virtues of placement and subtlety, embodied by the likes of Martina Hingis and Justine Henin in the modern game, still have their place.
But increasingly they are not enough against the very best.
Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati, along with Hingis the two women who held the number one ranking before Williams, both have power in abundance.
Williams beat sister Serena to win the 2001 USA Open
But increasingly Williams looks to be taking the game into a different realm.
Four Grand Slam titles in the last two years, plus double gold at the 2000 Olympics, suggest Williams has been the dominant player over the last couple of seasons.
So why has it taken her so long to ascend to the number one spot?
The reason is simple - she has played so little tennis compared to her rivals.
Williams competed in just 12 events in 2001, winning six, but compatriot and former world number one Lindsay Davenport played in 17 - and that despite missing two-and-a-half months with a knee injury.
Williams' frequent absence from the court enabled Martina Hingis to rack up 209 weeks at the top of the tree, even though she was invariably overpowered by the American whenever the two met.
The past two months I have been able to play without pain and that's done a lot for me
World number one
But whereas Hingis, who has not won a Grand Slam since the 1999 Australian Open, is the ultimate tennis junkie, traipsing round the world in search of points, Williams has been content to play as and when she feels like it.
Many in the game have questioned her dedication to the sport, and she has spoken of her desire to quit the game entirely once she stops playing.
But she claims that she has not played more because her body has not been up to it.
"Physically has been one of my problems in the past," she said on assuming the No.1 position.
"The past two months I have been able to play without pain and that's done a lot for me."
If the willowy Williams is now physically strong enough to play more regularly, and shows the desire to do so, then Venus can eclipse her rivals for many years to come.
Feb 26th, 2002, 10:23 PM
New World No. 1: Venus Takes Top Spot
Venus Williams By Richard Pagliaro
Venus Williams woke up on top of the world today. The 21-year-old Williams surpassed Jennifer Capriati to officially take over the top spot in the WTA Tour rankings. Williams is the first African-American player since Arthur Ashe in 1975 to hold the No. 1 ranking and joins Althea Gibson as the second African-American woman to rise to No. 1. Both Gibson and Ashe rose to No. 1 before the advent of the computer rankings.
"When you're on a professional tour, you don't aspire to be No. 3 or No. 2," said Williams, who is the fourth woman in the last five months to earn the No. 1 ranking. "Normally you do your best to become the best. At this point, I am the best player in the world, so that's exciting and it's going to be mine at least a week."
The two-time Wimbledon winner is the 10th woman in the history of the WTA Tour rankings to hold the No. 1 ranking. She joins a distinguished list of champions that includes Steffi Graf (No. 1 for 378 weeks), Martina Navratilova (No. 1 for 331 weeks), Chris Evert (No. 1 for 262 weeks), Martina Hingis (No. 1 for 209 weeks), Monica Seles (No. 1 for 178 weeks), Lindsay Davenport (No. 1 for 37 weeks), Tracy Austin (No. 1 for 22 weeks), Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario (No. 1 for 11 weeks) and Jennifer Capriati (No. 1 for 9 weeks).
The trip to the top of tennis has been an enjoyable journey for Williams, who now faces the challenge of trying to maintain her prominent place at the summit of the sport.
"Right now, it's just been great getting there, but it's another thing staying there, Williams said. "So I just have to be dedicated and more than anything, keep enjoying the game, because at any point it becomes a burden, at least to me, that's when it's a problem."
The Tour leader with three tournament titles this season — Gold Coast, Antwerp and Paris — Williams returned home to Florida to celebrate with her family and conclude a two-month road trip that took her to the top of tennis.
"My special plan would be just to get home, finally," Williams said. "It's been a long time on the road. I think I'm just looking forward to getting home and getting some rest with my family."
Prior to her turning pro on October 31st, 1994, Venus's father and coach, Richard Williams, boldly predicted that Venus and Serena Williams would someday be the top two ranked players in the world. Venus, who was lovingly characterized as a "Ghetto Cinderella" by Richard Williams, said she never felt burdened by trying to live up to her father's prediction. Her rise to the top is the fulfillment of a family dream that completes a remarkable journey from the cracked public courts of Compton, California to Centre Court at Wimbledon.
"I thought he was telling the truth," Venus said of her father. "I was just being the daughter of a proud father. And more than anything, I think he knew he put the work in and that we were listening to him, and I think that's why he had that confidence to say that myself and Serena would be Grand Slam champions. Right now, we are some of the best players in the game, I guess, in history, and I just think that I give a lot of credit to my dad for that. I just think that he's head over heels. He's going to give me a few pointers to try to stay on top."
Though she has trained to become the best in the game since she was a child, Venus has often appeared ambivalent about assuming the top spot. While she is unquestionably one of the most talented players on the Sanex WTA Tour, Williams has been reluctant to commit to a complete schedule. Her reluctance to play more frequently has prevented her from accumulating enough ranking points to seize the top spot. But her strong start to the 2002 season may signal a renewed commitment to playing more regularly.
The two-time U.S. Open champion has been a powerful presence in most major tournaments over the past two years, but her career has also been marked by prolonged periods of inactivity. While she is aiming to play 15 tournaments this year, Williams readily admits that she feels playing too much tennis is monotonous and that her time away from the game is equally important as success on the court.
"That's the way I am," Williams said. "I get bored very easily and if I spent all my time playing tennis it would start to bore me. I have a great job and most of the time I enjoy it, but I need to do other things in my life. I would like to win the French Open and I would like to be No. 1. But I realize I need to play more to achieve that and I don't know if I'm determined enough to do that."
Feb 27th, 2002, 04:19 PM
Venus - on top of the world.
VENUS SIMPLY THE BEST
By Andy Schooler, Sportinglife.com
It's finally over.
One of the great anomalies of tennis has ben put right - Venus Williams is officially on top of the world.
Most fans of the women's game have known for some time that Williams was indeed the best player on the WTA circuit.
In fact few doubted it from the time she won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2000 and then went off on an amazing run which saw her dominate the sport for the next six months.
It was a similar tale at the end of last season as the elder of sport's most famous sisters retained her Wimbledon and US Open titles in fine fashion.
But the rankings did not reflect that view.
Instead we had Martina Hingis' reign as number one stretched out for an all-too-long period, despite her constant failure to add to her Grand Slam title tally.
Williams made out she wasn't bothered about playing second, third or even fourth fiddle in the ranking list, but I don't buy that.
Now she will be recognised the world over as officially the best and that recognition in fans' eyes is something a little special.
For some time, I for one have championed Williams, saying she can go on to dominate the game if she so chooses.
If Hingis ruled the roost as number one for four years (209 weeks in all), Williams was all the weapons to more than match that, even in this much more competitive age.
The question remains, does she want to?
The main reason she has not reached number one before now is her refusal to play as busy a schedule as her peers such as Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport, both of whom have tasted the top slot in recent months.
Davenport finished 2001 as number one and rightly so - she had won more matches on the tour than any other player and was consistent to the hilt.
But was she the best player? Not in my opinion.
Had Williams have played more often, she would have toppled her fellow American, no question.
However, the signs for Williams fans are good for 2002, at least so far.
No-one can doubt her commitment over first two months of the tour when her schedule has been jam-packed.
Already three tournament victories have been achieved and the only factor that has prevented total dominance has been her quarter-final defeat to Monica Seles at the Australian Open.
But even that was surrounded by injury doubts.
It would be brilliant for fans the world over if Williams keeps this up.
But given what has gone before, you have to wonder.
Williams has tended to skip tournaments sister Serena plays in and it is interesting to note that the younger Williams has been injured over the past month as Venus added two more titles to her collection.
And one of those came in Brussels - an event she only entered after Serena withdrew.
One bi-product of both Williamses light schedule has been a highly competitive tour with Capriati and Davenport among those benefiting.
And when Venus could not deal with Seles, for whatever reason, in Melbourne, Capriati was there to capitalise.
It is perhaps a little harsh on Capriati, a player with great fighting ability, to suggest she is clearly second best to Williams.
After all, she has won three of the last five Slams to Williams' two.
But put Williams on the tour week in, week out and you'd soon see who's best.
Capriati has yet to beat Williams in her career and would undoubtedly suffer if such defeats were coming every couple of months around the globe.
And it's not just Capriati she holds the Indian sign over. There is hardly a player on the tour who holds a winning record over Williams.
So, Venus it's up to you.
Mar 14th, 2002, 05:31 PM
Venus To Host Clinic For Kids On Wednesday
Venus Williams By Richard Pagliaro
Newly-crowned No. 1 Venus Williams is preparing to defend her Nasdaq 100 title with an educational experience on Wednesday. The fashion-school student will take her turn as teacher when she hosts a clinic for kids at Wolk Park in Lauderhill, Florida.
The two-time Wimbledon winner will conduct the clinic from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wolk Park is located at 1080 42nd Way in Lauderhill. In addition to hitting with the children who attend, Williams will discuss the importance of education with the 150 boys and girls representing the South Florida Youth Tennis Program, Smart School Charter Middle, Lauderhill Middle School, and Phyl's Academy Preparatory School, as well as adults from the Sadkin Senior Center. The South Florida Youth Tennis Program was named one of the top 10 Community Tennis Associations in the United States by Tennis Week.
Her stop at Wolk Park is the first of several planned for this year where Venus will travel across the world to visit with children to share her insight on education and athletics. She is scheduled to visit the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center in Washington, D.C. next month.
Mar 17th, 2002, 08:46 PM
IMO - Venus sounded a little tired after this interview. Bless her heart. She had been thru sooooooo much to finally see it done.
That's our girl - though. What a trooper. Hopefully, Venus will win it for the fourth time. Yet - if she stumbles, I wonder who will topple her. God forbid. But - one just can't win it all - all the time. And until Venus is replaced, they "Just Can't Touch This."
"HERE'S HOPING YOU WIN FOUR TIMES AT THE BIG ONE IN MIAMI - VENUS" "HERE'S HOPING YOU WIN YOUR FIRST TIER ONE TOURNEY" "COME ON - VENUS AND SERENA"
"LONG LIVE THE QUEEN OF THE WTA WORLD" "QUEEN VICTORY VENUS IS BEGINNING HER JOURNEY TO THE WIMBY COURT AND PALACES - PLANNED FOR THE MIDDLE OF THE LORD'S YEAR - 2002" "VENUS WILL ARRIVE ON HER PLANET VENUS ON APPROXIMATELY 6/24/02 - SO HAVE ALL READY FOR YOUR HIGHNESS' COURTED RETURN"
"LINE UP ALL THE SUBJECT WANNABES LIKE - CHAMBER MAIDS - TO INCLUDE MARTINA HINGIS - WHOM VENUS WOULD VERY MUCH LIKE TO GIVE A TENNIS FLOGGING FOR THE WAY MAID MARTINA SHOWED UP THE QUEEN AT LAST YEAR'S OZ OPEN" "LET IT BE KNOWN AND SWORN WHO THE TRUE QUEEN OF THE WTA (WILLIAMS TENNIS ASSOCIATION) IS"
V. WILLIAMS/J. Capriati
4-6, 6-1, 7-6
An Interview With:
THE MODERATOR: First question, please.
Q. Did you ever win a match saving 8 matchpoints?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I haven't. This-- I guess there is a first for everything. She missed a few shots. I was able to stay in there.
Q. When she hit that passing shot on one of the matchpoints, when you let it go, you were thinking it could go in or --
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well I don't think I really had a really great play on it. I had some play on it but not all the best and it went long, so, I was back in it again. I just kept getting back in it some way or another. Then, I had breakpoints and kind of ruined those, but I was just really trying to just take advantage of my opportunities and eventually I was able to.
Q. Earlier in the tournament, Venus, you said I think we have learned a lesson how people can be. Two days ago you were jeered by most of the stadium. Today you got tremendous applause and held up the winner's trophy. What lesson can we learn or you learn from the two different days?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I think both Saturdays are exact opposites. But I don't think there is anything to learned to be honest. Just a nice match.
Q. But it felt good after all you went through before to emerge the victory here today?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I don't think it had anything to do with it. That was two weeks ago in Indian Wells. It was a different crowd and I can't expect people to like me just because I am a good person. They don't know that. They don't know me. And most of them will never have the opportunity to even meet me. So I have got to like myself, that is how I feel.
Q. Can you remember the last time you played Jennifer in 1997, how do you think she has changed and how do you think you have changed?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I play a lot smarter. I played more percentages I think. But even then it was nice not even to play smart because you go for broke and that kind of makes you even a greater player. I think she is playing a lot better. She adds a lot more spin on the ball. She has always moved very well and she has even stepped that up some. So I think most of all mentally she is a lot tougher.
Q. How physically and emotionally draining is a match that long? I am sure you get a little perky when you win -- but...
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah.
Q. Talk about that process.
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just think the heat was a major factor today because it was so hot that I think it took a lot out of both of us. If it had been a cooler day it probably would have been much easier to go out there and run, run, run. I think most of all it was the heat but we both pushed each other to the limit.
Q. Was there ever a point you thought you were going to lose?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Not really, no. I just didn't feel like that. I just-when I was facing my matchpoints I just kept telling myself what to do at the right time, everything that my dad had told me to do, that is what I tried to do. And I never really felt like I was going to lose. I felt disappointed when I lost serve those two times to go down 5-4 and 6-5. That is the only time I felt badly.
Q. What sort of things has your dad told you to do when you are matchpoint down?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Really just the basics, look at the ball, stay down, hit your topspin, turn your hips, all those little things that are really important under pressure.
Q. The dropshots seemed to keep her a little off balance as well. Then she tried to hit you with a couple of them. How much did that help to get you past those match points?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I have a really good drop shot especially off the forehand side and really I had her on the run and on the rope and she was far behind the baseline. It just seemed like a good idea when I hit them to hit the dropshots because she was far away, and she really -- she ran most of them down. I actually had to hit a shot afterwards, so.....
Q. You have had a quite a bit of success here. Is there an advantage -- have you ever been sleeping at home first of all?
VENUS WILLIAMS: No.
Q. Do you consider this your home tournament; is that why you feel so good here?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I feel good here because I feel like I have all the conveniences of home even though I am not exactly at home. I do stay in the hotel because it means about hour an 45 minute drive for me. It is too far. It is too exhausting to drive so far. Plus if you run into traffic it could be longer. The way Miami is, normally I take the turnpike because I95 is not just reliable anymore.
Q. Serena was asked to summarize last week's tournament in terms of just one term or phrase and she did a good job. If you had to summarize this week and the results here in just a word or a phrase what would that word or that phrase be?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I just think I was just able to hang in there through it all, through all my tough matches, through any ridiculous comments or questions that I had to face and things move on. Time moves on, things pass. So that is how I feel.
Q. What is your schedule look like in the next couple of weeks?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Home. I am a little tired, little broken. (Laughs) I am tired of taping because it really pulls your skin off. It is irritating and it is tough to get the spray off and I am -- I don't like the tape. So I am going to go home and train so hopefully when I am playing my next tournaments I won't have to -- I don't really like have to go out there and rely on my tape to get me through the matches. So I am really happy that this has been the last day of my competitions.
Mar 18th, 2002, 07:37 PM
Tennis in perspective
The game is just part of Venus Williams' world
BY JUAN C. RODRIGUEZ
She has tennis to thank for the stunning triangular pendant depicting a phoenix that rests on the base of her neck. For the television crews taking numbers and waiting to record her words. For unbelieving bystanders digging for their disposable cameras while professional photographers point foot-long lenses at her.
Observe Venus Williams in just about any setting and the riches, fame and celebrity her sport has brought her is evident. Though not as outwardly apparent, but perhaps more impressive, are the things she has refused to let tennis take away.
Williams, the defending Nasdaq-100 champion, concludes her first stretch atop the WTA Tour rankings today. Unlike many players, she got there without giving up more than she wanted.
''It's something my parents taught us before playing great tennis,'' said Williams, who begins this week trying for a fourth title in five years at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park. ``They taught us the values of life, and I realized tennis isn't the only life I'll have, or the most important thing in my life. More important is for me to be happy, and right now I am happy with what I'm doing.''
Though neither Williams nor Jennifer Capriati played this week's Pacific Life Open, Capriati will regain the No. 1 spot based on Williams losing the points she earned reaching the 2001 semifinals. Many felt Williams was the world's best player long before the computer concurred last month. But Williams won't feel pressed to prove it.
She'll continue playing what she considers a manageable amount of tennis, leaving ample time for other pursuits. On April 6, she'll take part in the second annual JP Morgan Chase Tennis Challenge at the Delray Beach Tennis Center to raise money for mother Oracene's learning foundation. Wednesday, she will visit with kids from the South Florida Youth Tennis Program and several Lauderhill schools to speak about her commitment to education.
Venus and younger sister Serena can't give you a graduation date, but they're chipping away at associates' degrees from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.
Venus is 13 classes (26 credits) away. Serena Williams joked the two-year program might take closer to 20 years, but come this fall chances are one or both will take tennis sabbaticals to concentrate on the books.
If the elder Williams had regularly played a full compliment of post-U.S. Open events, she would have long since become No. 1.
''From watching her and seeing her schedule, while the No. 1 thing was certainly a goal, she didn't need to accomplish it while changing her schedule before she was ready to make those adjustments,'' ESPN tennis analyst and 2002 Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Pam Shriver said. ``It came at the right time for her. I really admire the way she's gone about it, almost systematically. She didn't need to chase No. 1. She felt like it would happen in its correct time. It was there waiting for her if she wanted to do it sooner. She could have reached it by playing a few more tournaments.''
Added Oracene Williams: ``It paves the way for others. It's important because even though sports takes up a certain amount of time, what's the rest of your life like? That's what that is, to be able to transcend into that next life outside of sports. [Venus and Serena] are working very hard to go to schools and talk to kids.''
Venus Williams admires Pete Sampras. She named a dog after him and conceivably could one day match his Grand Slam title total (13), but she's only willing to emulate him to a certain degree. Sampras has talked about tennis dominating his life the six years he spent at No. 1 (1993-98).
Don't look for Williams to boost her tournament schedule for the sake of remaining atop the rankings. She can only take the sport in set doses without her interest waning.
Following the Australian Open, Williams played events in consecutive weeks in Paris, Antwerp and Dubai, winning two of them. She spent almost two months away from her Palm Beach Gardens home, an exhausting stretch she's in no rush to repeat.
''It's been great getting [to No. 1], but it's another thing staying there,'' said Williams, the Nasdaq-100's second seed behind Capriati. ``I just have to be dedicated and more than anything keep enjoying the game, because at any point it becomes a burden. At least to me, that's when it's a problem.
``Tennis never got boring. For me and for my personality, I have to keep it exciting and mix it up. If I play too much I feel exhausted. I feel like I need to be doing other things. . . . I'd love to stay [No. 1], but I don't know if I would be able to play 22 events in a year to stay there. I'd like to stay at a comfortable level. Seventeen or 18 events is great.''
Williams also has an injury history to consider. If she heeded the critics and tried playing additional events, maybe her body would have broken down more than it already has. Her fall layoffs also might have something to do with why Williams has not dominated early in seasons like she does in the summer at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
With four majors and almost $10 million in career tennis earnings, nobody is accusing Williams of not doing enough. Shriver hasn't come across any philosophies that propose tennis tunnel-vision as the best way to remain on top.
''If people believe there's not time for anything else in your life but tennis, they're wrong,'' Shriver said. ``There definitely is time to have other activities to balance out your life.
'In [Williams'] case, the school bit, she has to be off the road if she attends class. It's a great balance to make her life more fulfilling, more round in a way, and maybe even takes a little bit of pressure off the tennis. The way [Venus and Serena] have done it can be a real case study on how to do it right.''
"GOOD LUCK IN MIAMI - VENUS"
Mar 18th, 2002, 09:17 PM
Gogogirl- Thanks for that, u are great. :)
Finally someone who loves Venus Williams the same as me.
I still am #1 fan of Venus Williams :p
U can be #2 though :bounce:
Mar 18th, 2002, 11:48 PM
Excellent article! Thanks for posting it, GogoGirl.
Mar 19th, 2002, 07:13 PM
These article were great
Mar 19th, 2002, 07:17 PM
QueenO and all. Check out the Venus video. They surely use the Sisters as measuring sticks - don't they?
Apr 6th, 2002, 05:43 PM
I think Venus can win her next tourney. This is her time of year to get it in gear.
"COME ON - VENUS" "LET'S PULL OUT ALL THE STOPS - GIRLFRIEND" "THIS TOURNEY IS YOURNS FOR THE GETTIN"
1ST EDIT: Ohh - I forgot. Has anyone seen the Venus Gillette (sp) razor commercial? I can't believe they are using the same little tune = "You're our Venus - You're our fire and our desire." What is up w/that? Wilson Leathers must have allowed Gillette to use that little jingle. I do declare!
"YOU'RE THE FIRST AND LAST - OF OUR FIRE AND DESIRE - VENUS" "COME ON - VENUS" "TURN THAT CAMP OUT"
Apr 14th, 2002, 03:10 PM
Heavy Weight Champ
Venus Williams has reached the summit of the sport, but she has one major goal this year: the French Open. In this exclusive interview she tells ace, "I know I have a chance of winning anywhere and everywhere...including Paris"
After an exhausting and highly successful two months on the road, reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion Venus Williams celebrated her historic arrival at No 1 in the world. Venus, who has more than fulfilled her extraordinary teenage promise, has been around so long that it seems hard to believe she is still only 21!
Her place is assured in the record books: she's the only 10th player to hold the top spot since the WTA world rankings began in 1975, replacing her compatriot Jennifer Capriati, who held the top spot for the previous nine weeks.
Following a strong start to the year which included titles at Gold Coast, Paris and Antwerp, Venus headed home after reaching the semi-finals in Dubai for some well deserved rest and relaxation. In an exclusive interview, she tells ace just what it means to fulfill the controversial and widely ridiculed predictions which she and her father had made in her early teens that she would one day reach No.1.
"I have always set myself difficult goals in life", she explains. "Quite simply because otherwise you don't achieve any of the difficult goals. I don't think my plan was unrealistic. I was young, fresh, gutsy, aggressive and I had the talent you need...so why shouldn't I have achieved it?
"I have never been bothered about what other people say, what other people write, what people say on televison. It was like water off a duck's back. The only pressure there is comes from yourself. I'm the one who gets the best out of herself, I'm the one who says: Venus you have to win this match. Or you must become the best tennis player.
"But my father played an enormously important role, because it was he who made Serena and me what we are: two of the best players in the world."
Despite his huge influence, Richard Williams, once ever present at his daughter’s matches, now rarely goes to their tournaments - something Venus attributes to the sheer stress of watching them play.
"I think he's afraid that he won't always be able to cope with the strain on his nerves on the spot, on the court," she says. "A journey as long as the one we made to Australia is not his idea of fun in any case; our mother comes on her own with us then. Daddy has quite a bad fear of flying, so a trip like that would have been an absolute nightmare for him. He also has a lot of business interests at home, so he has more to think about than just dealing with tennis day in day out."
She admits that much of the personal criticism of her mercurial father is hurtful, particularly as he remains so crucial to her career. "He was, he is and he will continue to be," she defiantly declares. "Even if other people don't like him and make offensive remarks. He made sure that we were able to find our way in tennis at our own pace and didn’t burn out at an early age like other kids. Serena and I will be eternally grateful to him for that"
Fear of burnout dictated both sisters' light tournament schedules and explained why neither of them played on the junior tour. Venus is convinced that this was the ideal solution for them, even though they and their father encountered huge criticism for entering so few tournaments and also pulling out unexpectedly from others for no obvious reason.
"We say plenty of bad examples," Venus recalls. "Girls who had great results as 13 or 14 year old girls but the disappeared into no man's land when they went on the regular tour. Even Jennifer Capriati had her problems, before she made that great comeback and won a number of major tournaments. Serena and I - we never stopped enjoying our tennis because we had planned our program carefully.
"Everyone in tennis has to be comfortable with what they're doing and to be able to do what is right for them personally. It was important not to play each and every tournament going, because you need to stay fit and be ready for the top competitions and still have time for other interests - such as my design course. What's so bad about that? Besides, I now play to a fairly intensive schedule; I was on the move virtually non-stop during the first two months of this year."
She admits that her success is like a dream come true after her rough start in one of Los Angeles' most intimidating suburbs. "We have had a really tough time, now we've made it to the safe side. But we have also been shaped by our childhood; it was the toughest school you can imagine.
"I remember one time when we were practicing on a public court - my father, Serena and I - and suddenly a shoot out started on the court next door. My father threw himself on top of us and said: 'Keep still, don't say a word, otherwise it's all over'. We saw stabbings, brawls, and gang fights as well. That was every day life for us. We will never forget it."
Venus like the rest of the Williams clan has never been troubled by false modesty but, surprisingly, despite the boxer speak, the apparent naivety and the taste for spending sprees around the shopping malls, she has an impressive grasp of tennis history and the role of other black stars who blazed a trail for their modern-day counterparts. She is thrilled to be the first African-American, man or woman, to reach the top spot in tennis's computer rankings, but equally aware of the influence of former greats such as Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe, both Wimbledon champions - Gibson in 1957 and 1958 and Ashe in 1975.
"I don't feel I'm anything the first", she insists. "Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe were also really No.1 in their day, even if it was not obvious from the rankings in those days. (Gibson's era was long before the introduction of official world rankings, whilst Jimmy Connors kept Ashe off the ATP’s top spot). Althea was an even more important personality, a role model for many athletes of my color. She must never be forgotten. In any case I represent all of America in my sport. I think that's important."
Apart from Gibson, Venus names Steffi Graf as her greatest tennis idol. "Steffi was the most fantastic player in modern women's tennis," she declares. "She is head and shoulders above everyone else. I always wanted to have the same strength and athleticism as Steffi. One thing is clear: there is plenty I want to achieve in tennis but no-one - not me, nor any other player in the future will be able to come close to Steffi. Such a dominance and so many titles...will never happen again".
She points to the formidably high standard of the current stars of the women's game to emphasize the daunting task she face in trying to stay No.1. "There are plenty of brilliant players, such as Hingis, Davenport, Capriati, Seles or the Belgians, Henin and Clijsters. But I hope Serena will provide the strongest opposition. Maybe her form is still a little inconsistent. But our matches will still be hard-fought. And our matches will be fair too.
"And if there's anyone I don't mind losing to at the end of the day, it has to be Serena. We will always be inseparable, even if we do battle it out on court. We argue very rarely. And it's never serious. We have always joined forces against all the others who wanted to have a go at us. We make a very formidable duo. And we are always up for it, having fun. Particularly now, traveling the world together. It's like an exciting adventure for us - the new cities, all the different people, all these new things to experience".
Best of all however is the realization that has truly earned her position at No.1, through her big match victories in the majors which have helped to build the crucial self belief that she is capable of anything, including a first victory in the French Open.
"The step up to the top has come at just the right time for me," she grins. "Because my Grand Slam titles last year have allowed me to establish the platform from which I can feel - in my own mind - that I really deserve this position. The No.1 position would be meaningless for me if I hadn't won the Grand Slams. But the two together - the major titles and being No.1 - that is an absolute dream. I know I have a chance of winning anywhere and everywhere, including Paris. If my mind's right, anything is possible.
"If there is one thing I have learnt over recent years, it is how important it is to believe in yourself. Once you have the confidence, everything else comes automatically."
(Written by Jorg Allmeroth and Sally Jones)
Apr 15th, 2002, 03:06 PM
Like Venus stated in the article - she made up her mind - she was not going to lose that match. She did whatever was needed, and eventually - her mental attitude required her to toughen things up – NOW!!! I don’t think Justine knew what hit her. And she must have thought at 4/3 and with her serving - that Venus may be coming back. She had to know. She could feel VV's footsteps hot on her tar heels. She could feel Venus creeping up on her - until the hair on the back of her neck - had to swell and rise up - for Venus had greased her wheels - and there may be - no turning back.
What Venus did yesterday, was truly a splendid and fascinating effort done by our girl. And my point is - she has been groomed to go into her bag of tools and steps and pull out what she’s learned and apply it. Knowledge and belief are definitely 2 of the tools.
Praise God - and credit Pops & Moms. I mean, after all, how was Venus able to come back? Did she use her brains? Did she pull out that brain power that she has going for herself off and on a tennis court? Did she begin to calm down and play smarter? Of course she did. She took pace off the ball to ensure she got her balls back onto the court, and on the other side of the net. She started practicing and bringing out one of her older traits called - Patience 101, something that at one time she had to learn and grow into. 2000 – was the year Venus had finally put it all together. She goes off on her technique at times – but she never leaves home w/o the will and heart to improve as she goes. She improves in a game – set and match. Venus is excellent on making on court adjustments.
Justine began to doubt herself, and that awe factor she holds toward Venus appeared in her mind and heart. And no - I don't mean she is totally awed by Venus. I am sure she knows Venus is a winner - for their record between them was 4/1 - in favor of Venus. Justine had to feel Venus's very own will and force across that net. She began to worry that she may not win this thing after all. And when she was leading 6/2 tied 4/4 in the second set, she lost her concentration - IMO. Justine was just not able to keep up w/Venus after a while, just as Venus had not kept up w/Justine in the first set. It was like Venus had checked out in the first set - but she soon checked back in. And right around that time - I thought - if you’re coming back Venus - ya gots to come back now & she did! That's Venus for you, and she has plenty of heart, brain and brawn power.
And as I tried to point out yesterday - by the time a final rolls around - and Miss Victory Venus is playing in it - she always finds that final gear needed to get this show and race on the road. Venus doesn't like to lose by the time she fought and pawed her way to the top/final. She is not turning around. As sung in the old "Negro Spiritual" - "I Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round." IMO - Venus has that kind of mental mantle that a champion need have - in order to keep the belief in oneself. And Venus was quoted recently talking about - Belief. She is too much, and she believes just right.
"WAY TO HANDLE IT - VENUS" "WAY TO GO GIRRRRRRRRL" "YOU DESERVE A BREAK TODAY - SO REST UP AND ENJOY ALL THAT'S WITHIN YOUR LIFE CIRCLE" "FAMILY - GOD - AND LOVE" "NOW COME ON - VENUS - GET SERENA READY" "COACH LITTLE SISTER"
Williams wins fourth title of year Associated Press
AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. --
Experience has been Venus Williams' best teacher.
A slow start Sunday in the final of the Bausch & Lomb Championships didn't faze Williams. It only made her more determined to rally and beat Justine Henin for her fourth title this year."Back in the day, I lost a lot of matches like these," Williams said after overcoming fatigue and 60 unforced errors to win the $585,000 clay court event 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5)."I guess about two years ago it came to a point where I was tired of losing. I was tired of heartbreak," Williams added. "I was tired, not that I didn't deserve it, of watching other people win when I was at the finish line."Williams was down a set and four games before working her way back into the match.
Twice, she was within two points of losing, but found a way to keep going in the heat.The title was her 16th in the past three seasons, and 25th overall, boosting her career earnings past $9.8 million."I just wanted it to look presentable. I didn't want to lose 6-2, 6-0," said Williams, who also rebounded from a slow start to beat Anne Kremer in the semifinals. "I got a game, then I got another. I kept telling myself I wasn't losing today."An exhausted Henin, playing her third match in 24 hours, served twice for the championship. But she couldn't hold a 5-4 lead in the second set, then faltered again when she had a chance to close after going up 5-3 in the third."I'm a little disappointed, but that's tennis," Henin said. "I'm only 19. I got nervous trying to finish the match. I have to work on that."Williams won five straight points to go up 6-1 in the third-set tiebreaker.
The second-seeded Henin fought off match point four times before smashing a forehand into the net to end the 2-hour, 24-minute match.It was Henin's third loss to Williams in a final this year."She was impressive," said Henin, ranked ninth in the world. "She's a tough player, a great champion, and I have a lot of respect for her."Williams has won 16 of the last 17 finals she played. She's 5-1 lifetime against Henin, whose only victory against Williams came in the only other match they played on clay.
That win in the round of 16 at the 2001 German Open, as well as a three-set loss on carpet in this year's Diamond Championships final, gave Henin confidence that she could pull an upset Sunday.She broke Williams' serve five straight times on the way to winning the first set and building the 4-0 lead in the second. But even though Williams had dropped eight straight games at point, the top seed remained confident she would win if she could extend the match to a third set."I always believed that I could somehow pull it out, but it was really bleak.
The way she was playing, I just wasn't sure I could do anything about (losing) at that point," she said.Williams improved her record to 26-3 this year, and the $93,000 winner's check boosted her 2002 earnings to $501,673. She's 4-0 lifetime in finals against Henin, including a three-set victory at Wimbledon last year.Williams also beat Henin to win the Australian Women's Hardcourt Championships in January.
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Apr 15th, 2002, 06:56 PM
Tip of the Week: Come back like Venus
by Tony Lance, Contributing Editor
April 15, 2002 -- This past Sunday, fans were treated to mesmerizing match featuring remarkable shifts in momentum between Venus Williams and Justine Henin. It was the final of the Bausch and Lomb Championships at Amelia Island and both players traded leads.
In the second and third sets Henin built big leads and both times Williams came back to win. Though the Belgian could be faulted for not closing out the match, Williams ultimately won because she made the right adjustments at the right time.
Whenever you find yourself behind in a match, follow her example and try to:
Slow it down: Trailing 2-6, 0-4, Williams made a shrewd decision to change her tempo. Until that point, the rallies were relatively short and the points were ending with either an error by the American or forced play by Henin. Williams's response was to play more conservatively by hitting more topspin and hitting away from the lines. By lengthening the rallies and limiting her errors Williams made two things happen: She put pressure on Henin to play even better and she made Henin think about what was happening on the court. It was enough to buy Williams a reprieve allowing her to win the second set.
Give ‘em rope: There’s an old saying that says, “Give a man enough rope and he’ll hang himself.” Williams wisely realized that Henin became nervous when she had opportunities to close out the match. The American's response was perfect. Rather than make errors on the important points, she gave Henin the proverbial rope and allowed her to make the errors, ultimately losing the match.
"YOU'RE THE ADJUSTMENT QUEEN - VENUS" "HOPE 2 C U SOON - GIRLFRIEND"
May 1st, 2002, 10:25 PM
I will see you all next week. I am on my way to Florida for a scheduled boot camp - where I'll learn how to get rich on the Internet.
Next time I go somewhere - here's hoping I'll have a laptop to take w/me.
Have a good one - rooting for our girl - VV.
Well - we know - Venus loves to defend her tiltles. So - here's hoping she fights - fights - fights - for her rights - in order to hold on to her title - w/all her might.
"COME ON - VENUS" "YOU CAN DO IT" "DEFEND IT TO THE END IT" "GET YOUR WINNING STREAK ON IN TIME FOR WIMBY" "AIN'T NOTHING TO IT - BUT TO DO IT - VENUS" ""LET'S GO!"
Posted on Wed, May. 01, 2002
Stevenson's most hurtful losses: 2 friends on 9/11
By DANA PENNETT O'NEIL
ALAN BRIAN NILSEN / FOR THE DAILY NEWS
Alexander Stevenson signs shirt of Katelyn Cressman, 10.
Ordinarily, when Alexandra Stevenson hops into the chauffeured cars used by players at tennis tournaments, she sits in the back. In an effort to not seem rude, but still avoid the small talk as she puts on her game face, Stevenson lets her mother, Samantha, ride shotgun.
Last August in New York, Samantha ducked into the front door only to find her normal spot occupied by her daughter. Bewildered, Samantha peered across the bench seat.
Twenty-year-old Alexandra had perched herself next to Manny Delvalle Jr., a young Puerto Rican-American with the looks of a matinee idol.
For the next 10 days of the U.S. Open, the tennis player and the driver learned about one another, becoming fast friends. Though Delvalle was 32 and in Samantha's eyes too old for her daughter, she liked him and gave her consent for him to take Alexandra on a dinner date.
Delvalle wanted to take Alexandra to Windows on the World so she could press her face against the glass and stare down at Manhattan.
They agreed to meet on Sept. 13. Of course, on Sept. 11 the World Trade Center's Twins Towers disintegrated at the hands of a terrorist attack, taking the famous restaurant with them.
When the towers fell, they also took Manny Delvalle.
Delvalle was only driving Stevenson around for extra cash. His full-time job was as a New York City firefighter with Engine No. 5 on 14th Street. He just had finished working an overnight shift when the call came in, and immediately Delvalle went back to work, carrying hose lines and oxygen up to the 80th floor of Tower 1. The last time anyone saw him alive, he was giving a woman oxygen on the 10th floor. His body was recovered on Oct. 13.
As she watched the morning news on Sept. 11 and worried about Delvalle, Stevenson received a phone call. It was from a high school friend, one of two dear friends Stevenson palled around with at La Jolla (Calif.) Country Day School. The third member of their clique, Deora Bowley, had been flying home from Boston that morning. She was on Flight 93, the one that crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pa.
Stevenson, who will play World TeamTennis for the Philadelphia Freedoms this summer, yesterday met with fourth-grade students at the Roberts Elementary School in Wayne, Pa., as part of a TeamTennis Adopt-A-School program. Stevenson still talks with that teenage "up voice,'' where statements sound more like questions, and speaks proudly of her pink bedroom and her dream to own a BMW convertible, but now at the tender age of 21, Stevenson has endured more than most people do in a lifetime.
In 1999, her private life was exposed and devoured in the British tabloids as well as across this country when it was revealed that 76ers legend Julius Erving was her father.
The heat only intensified over the fortnight as Stevenson became the first female qualifier in the history of Wimbledon to reach the semifinals.
And now she has buried a lifelong friend, as well as a new one she was hoping to know better.
"I'm not a normal 21-year-old," said Stevenson, who over the weekend visited with Delvalle's engine company. "I said the other day, 'Mom, do you think any other 21-year-olds have gone through this?' "
Rather than crumble, Stevenson has instead found a perspective normally unheard of in the cloistered life that is professional tennis. She has tennis goals like everyone else on tour - to win, to make the top 10, to earn a spot on the Olympic team.
But she also has a new attitude, a legacy left by Delvalle.
"I realized tennis isn't everything, that life is much more important," said Stevenson, who wears a patch honoring Delvalle when she plays. "Not many people value life on the tour. It's about money and greed and winning. Being 150th in the world [as she was in September], you lose a lot and you get treated like dirt on the ground. I've grown up a lot, and Manny helped that. He told me, 'Alexandra, when I get in a situation and people bug me, I just flick it off.' So that's what I do.''
Armed with her new outlook, one she demonstrates by pretending to flick a bug off her wrist, Stevenson's game has flourished. Earlier this month, her world ranking had risen to a personal-best No. 26.
With confidence in her game growing, Stevenson this summer will join the World TeamTennis Pro League, a unique format begun by Billie Jean King in which two women and two men comprise a team and a game consists of five sets - one set each of men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles and mixed doubles. Stevenson and Mark Philippoussis are the featured players for King's Freedoms, who will play their home games at Cabrini College in July.
By playing in this city, Stevenson realizes she will dredge up her personal history, that here particularly her face and name always will conjure up the image of her father. But she is, if not entirely comfortable with the association, at least accustomed to it. When a precocious fourth-grader opened up yesterday's question-and-answer session by asking what disadvantages there are to being famous, Stevenson smiled and explained how it can be tough to bare your personal life, but said that it goes with the territory.
"I still get upset," Stevenson said later. "It's amazing what people will say. I want to ask, 'Don't you have a conscience?' I mean, you can't blame people. When reporters keep printing it and printing it, it gets in people's minds. If they're fed news, they're going to remember it. Occasionally it pops up now. It's part of me. I guess I could be called athletic royalty. But it's only half of me. I hope by now people are recognizing me for me." *
May 27th, 2002, 05:10 PM
05/27/2002 - Updated 12:31 PM ET
Venus Williams opens with easy win in Paris
By Rick Gano, The Associated Press
By Francois Mori, Reuters
Venus Williams had a much easier time this year with her first-round match at the French Open.
PARIS — Struggling with her serve and overcoming the cold weather, Venus Williams won her opening match at the French Open and avoided the upset that knocked her out early a year ago. The second-seeded Williams beat Germany's Bianka Lamade 6-3, 6-3 Monday on a chilly, rainy first day at Roland Garros. In other early first-round matches, top-seeded Lleyton Hewitt beat Andre Sa of Brazil 7-5, 6-4, 7-5, while Australian Open champion and ninth-seeded Thomas Johansson downed Franco Squillari of Argentina 6-2, 7-6 (8-6), 6-2. Two-time defending champion Gustavo Kuerten finished off Ivo Heuberger of Switzerland 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in one of several matches interrupted by rain.
Williams, ousted by Barbara Schett in her first match last year, managed to get in just 43% of her first serves, had six double faults and made 35 unforced errors.
"The first set I felt good and then for some reason I started to be tight. Maybe I was thinking about last year," Williams said. "The rest of the match I was just trying to hold on."
Williams breezed through the first four games, yielding just five points, but lost two straight service games before regrouping and taking the first set in 27 minutes.
Her serve bogged her down in the second set, but she was able to save seven break points. Trailing 3-2 and love-30, she came up with an ace and service winner in a four-point run and then took the final four games against Lamade, who'd won just two main draw matches all year.
Williams, who withdrew from the Italian Open because of a ligament sprain in her right wrist, refused to use that an excuse.
"It was a little tough this morning because it was really cold. It was tough to warm up. But once I got going, it seemed to do OK," Williams said.
In other matches Monday, No. 18-seeded Alex Corretja, last year's runner-up, beat Bohdan Ulihrach 6-1, 6-4, 6-1; No. 16 Younes El Aynaoui eliminated American Jan-Michael Gambill 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4; No. 10 Amelie Mauresmo beat Camille Pin 6-4, 6-1; Elena Dementieva, seeded No. 13, defeated Adriana Gersi 7-5, 6-3; No. 23 Anne Kremer downed Janet Lee 6-1, 7-6 (5); and No. 31 Rita Grande ousted Marianna Diaz-Oliva 6-4, 6-4.
Sixth-seeded Monica Seles, fresh off a victory in Madrid, was scheduled to face Angeles Montolio of Spain later Monday. And Pete Sampras, shaky on the clay and without a tournament win since the 2000 Wimbledon, played Andrea Gaudenzi of Italy.
Defending champion Jennifer Capriati won't play until Tuesday, when she meets fellow American Marissa Irvin. Also on the schedule Tuesday are Serena Williams and Andre Agassi.
Capriati, the top seed, says she hasn't sneaked a peak at her dramatic victory from a year ago.
Her win over Kim Clijsters in last year's final was tennis at its edgy best, two friends slugging it out before Capriati captured an exhausting and exhilarating third-set tiebreaker, 12-10.
"I really haven't seen it again," Capriati says. "I only remember playing it. So I'm sure they'll play it a couple times on TV or something, some highlights. But I think I have a few things to really look at to get me inspired for myself to play good tennis."
"WAY TO GO - VENUS" "KEEP THY BELIEF IN THINE SELF" 'YOU CAN DO IT"
"COME ON - SERENA - LET'S GO" "EASE ON DOWN THAT SEVEN MATCH ROAD" "YOU CAN DO IT"
Jun 8th, 2002, 06:01 PM
"WE LUV YOU VENUS" "SEE U SOON AT YOUR COURT IN WIMBY" "U STILL RULE - VENUS" "LIL SIS STILL HAS TO KNOCK YOU OUT TO REACH NUMBER 1" "SHOW HER WHO IS IN CHARGE DURING THE GRASS COURT SEASON"
"WE DO GOTS TO GIVE IT TO 'LIL SIS THOUGH" "HERE'S TO YOU WINNING YOUR SECOND GRAND SLAM - SERENA" "YOU ARE ANOTHER BADD GIRL FOR LIFE" "WE LUV U 2 - SERENA"
Jun 8th, 2002, 11:57 PM
Venus you are still the class of the field in every department...I love you lots!!
My heart broke a little when you lost today but mended a little when I saw your love for Serena.
Sorry Serena I love you too but Venus touches my heart just a little bit more...I don't know why...there's just something about Venus.
I prayed for you Serena last year when you seemed to need it but now you have found yourself and it is Venus that seems a bit unsure, maybe she's bored but hopefully she will rebound at wimbledon.
forever yours Venus!!
Jul 6th, 2002, 06:11 PM
Btw - WTA World admins - I love it that you started a "Planet Venus Forum" after me. Way to go.
Serena grabs sister's Wimbledon title
July 6, 2002 Posted: 11:36 AM EDT (1536 GMT)
Serena Williams has won her first Wimbledon title
LONDON, England -- Serena Williams is the new Wimbledon ladies champion after beating her sister and defending title-holder Venus.
The younger Williams sister triumphed 7-6 6-3 to end Venus' hopes of becoming the first woman since Steffi Graf to win the title three times in a row. (Match report)
"It was now or never because I was playing the two-times champion," said Serena, 20. "It's hard to beat Venus here.
"I definitely really was fighting in the first set, and played well in the tiebreak. She played well and wouldn't stop running the ball down."
Venus, 22, conceded defeat graciously but still spoke of her fondness for the tournament.
"Sometimes you have to accept it," she said. "This is where it's at, at Wimbledon, this is where it all started."
Serena took the opening set after coming out on top after three straight service breaks in the middle of the opening set, the final one gifted to her courtesy of a double fault and backhand error from Venus.
But Venus was not giving up with a third straight Wimbledon title within her sights, and broke back as Serena served for the set, Serena bouncing her racket off the turf in frustration after netting a simple backhand.
She made amends in the tie-break however, taking it 7-4 on her second set point with an ace.
Umpire Jane Harvey initially called a let in the belief the ball had clipped the net, but neither player seemed to hear as the crowd applauded, and Harvey simply shrugged her shoulders as the duo took their seats.
Venus was constantly facing a battle to hold serve and saved two break points in her opening service game of the second set after two double faults.
Venus (right) had won five out of the pair's eight meetings
She went 0-30 down on three straight service games and eventually the pressure told, Serena breaking for a 4-2 lead.
Just as in the first set however, Venus broke straight back only to then be broken again due to another costly double fault to give Serena a chance to serve for the match.
Saturday's match was the first time siblings had contested a Wimbledon final for 118 years.
Serena toppled Venus in the French Open last month, and sailed through the first six rounds at Wimbledon without dropping a set.
Venus beat her sister on her way to her first Wimbledon triumph in 2000 and got the better of her in last September's U.S. Open final.
THE BATTLE ends so quickly for Venus Williams. One last punishing shot,
an earnest handshake at the net, and then she's an entirely new person.
With graceful, carefree waves to the crowd, she looks like an upscale socialite about to embark on a Caribbean cruise. The rest of us stand dockside,
hoping she has a wonderful time.
To catch her in that moment, you couldn't imagine the single-minded destruction that preceded it. In a vintage Sunday performance that humbled Kim Clijsters, brought gasps of appreciation from the crowd and earned her the Bank of the West title at Stanford, Venus gave everyone a taste of big-time power tennis -- for now and the foreseeable future.
Because the outcome seems so inevitable (against anyone but her sister, Serena), and because she's too classy to spice up a match with obscenities or broken rackets, the mind tends to wander while watching Venus. It drifts into the past, and an era of tennis that makes a 30-year gap seem like a century.
Before the Jimmy Connors-led crew came along and changed everything, crushing the two-handed backhand and fostering an attitude of relentless baseline aggression, the game was played in relative slow motion -- and that's the men's game we're talking about. Watching the old films, it is not merely obvious that players used wooden rackets and an infinite variety of shots. They didn't think like Venus Williams or the other big names in women's tennis today. Even fiery competitors like Pancho Gonzales and Tony Trabert didn't unload a full-power laser beam on every single shot.
"When you're playing Venus," Clijsters said afterward, "you feel like every shot has to be perfect. She hits the ball so hard and has so much range, you just can't make any mistakes."
So how good is the women's game, relative to the men? Watching Venus against Andre Agassi might not be a pretty sight, but what about the John McEnroe challenge that seems to surface every few months? The purists scoff, and without question, the thing could turn into a circus, but it might not be long before the women's tour runs out of legitimate opposition and McEnroe seems a worthy alternative.
Even at 43, McEnroe could confound Venus with his big-bending, left-handed serve. At close range, trying to catch up to her fearsome groundstrokes, he might not be so quick to belittle Venus or any other female player. Still, he'd throw a little imagination into the match, with his volleys and touch and general court sense. Martina Hingis is a thoughtful player when healthy, but nobody else offers the Williams sisters any kind of strategic challenge -- and even at that, Hingis stays mostly at the baseline.
What McEnroe could do, if not win the match outright, is provide a spark. There would have to be somebody out there to recognize the inherent genius in McEnroe's game. Maybe a 12-year-old prospect who looks beyond the baseline, who would rather hit her backhand with slice and topspin, with force and touch,
instead of turning loose the same shot every time. Then the sport would move forward.
Not that Venus doesn't have a few ideas. At 5-3 and 30-all in the first set,
she suddenly rushed to the net behind a forward-moving groundstroke. This amounted to Shaquille O'Neal shooting an underhand free throw, or Tiger Woods using Bernhard Langer's putter; you just don't see it.
Clijsters screamed as her passing shot was sent back, decisively, but in fact it was a lunging, backhanded volley winner from Venus -- a fleeting meteor for now, but perhaps a sign of the future. She also surprised everyone with an exquisite forehand drop shot, from just inside the baseline, so perfect that even Clijsters' quick reaction wasn't enough.
Such moments are telling when it comes to Venus' staying power in the public eye. Commissioners argue for parity but the fans know better; they enjoy great teams and truly dominant athletes. The brand of appeal comes from all directions: style (Muhammad Ali), humility (Derek Jeter), arrogance (Pedro Martinez), well-timed emotion (Woods). There is great beauty in Venus' stoicism, but if her game takes on additional depth and creativity, there will be a freshness to her command. And for Serena's, as well.
So there was Venus after Sunday's win, chatting comfortably with the press and reiterating that Stanford, and the whole Bay Area, is one of her favorite places. "I always have a great time here," she said. "Went to Pier 39 and Chinatown, did a lot of things. But not Alcatraz. That's always sold out."
Not to worry. At day's end, there's a cruise ship waiting for Venus. It's a very private line, with destinations fit only for her.
Aug 18th, 2002, 04:49 PM
"COME ON - VENUS" "LET'S GO" "IT'S YOUR TIME TO SHINE VV - JUST IN TIME FOR THE PRIMETIME" "DEFEND TO THE END @ THE PILOT PEN"
"FORGOT TO CONGRATULATE YOU ON YOUR WEST COAST SWEEP - GIRLFRIEND" "CONGRATULATIONS" "YOU TOOK IT TO 'EM" "SAY - WORK AIN'T ALL THAT HARD - IF YOU'RE A BADD GURL FOR LIFE"
The Venus Factor potent in women's tennis
Sunday, August 18, 2002
PILOT PEN TENNIS COL 18
A phone call came into the sports department at the Republican-American early last week. The gentleman needed information about the Pilot Pen Tennis tournament.
"When does the Pilot Pen start?" the caller asked.
He was informed that the event begins Sunday, today, and continues through Saturday.
There was a pause, and then another question: "What time is Venus playing?"
"I want to know what time Venus Williams is playing," he said, a bit annoyed.
Ah, so you're a star gazer, not a tennis fan.
He was mystified when informed that Venus will not play today, or even Monday, and perhaps not even Tuesday. No one has any idea when Venus is playing, and no one will know until sometime Monday night, probably.
"Well why not?" he demanded.
This isn't a Yankee game, I tried to explain, where first pitch is 7:05 on the dot and Venus is always in the lineup. This is tennis, and even tennis people can hardly explain the game's scheduling mysteries.
Tennis fans, generally, buy their tickets in advance and enjoy the matches of whomever, whenever. The sport does not attract a walk-up kind of crowd. Tennis stars are crawling all over New Haven this week. Lindsay Davenport, Martina Navratilova, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and Martina Hingis are here, and all of them are former No. 1 ranked stars.
None of this made the slightest difference to a fan who wants to walk in, watch Venus, and go home. It's like the indifference of concert-goers to the opening act at a rock show. They show up just for the headliner.
Venus is the ultimate headliner in women's sports, the one-name that commands the marquee, like Cher or Madonna, Liza or Bette. She is the three-time defending champion in New Haven, and like the old joke, she's done everything there but show you to your seat. When you call the 1-800 phone number for the Pilot Pen, it is Venus, or at least her voice on a recording, who answers the phone.
There will be a lot of stars sashaying on the stadium court at the Connecticut Tennis Center this week, but Venus has eclipsed them all. She is the epitome of star power in the women's game. In any game. She just may be the most recognizable female athlete on the planet.
Venus was affixed in the firmament on the day she was named after the goddess of beauty and love, but she clearly earned her place in the pantheon the day she started to whack a tennis ball. In 1997, Venus advanced to the singles final of the U.S. Open in her first time playing the event. Davenport defeated Venus that day but it was quite apparent that the women's game was about to change forever.
Many believe the game has changed for the best. The women's game always attracted tennis fans who felt that beauty and tactics and strategy had disappeared from men's game. Guess what? It's just about gone on the ladies side, too. The genteel game played with wooden rackets at hoity-toity tennis clubs is gone. What's left is star power, and no one personifies that more than Venus.
Tennis was in desperate need of something akin to golf's Tiger Factor. The Venus Factor may be just as potent. That was demonstrated when the U.S. Open moved its women's singles final to prime time, Saturday night in 2001. Venus played Serena, and the match had the glitz and glitter of a Broadway opening.
But is it great for the game of tennis, or just great for Venus? What happens when the Williams sisters pack up the rackets in a few years, or, as often happens, become hard-court road kill, victim of the latest tennis phenom from somewhere in eastern Europe? The CBS television network and the United States Tennis Association will bring down the curtain on that prime time tennis extravaganza in a New York minute.
But the caller doesn't care about any of that. He just wants to know about Venus.
"Well, I'll just call you back every night," he said.
"No, no, don't call me. Go to the Pilot Pen Tennis Web site. Or just read the newspaper every morning."