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Venus falls for her Italian protector
31st July 2001

n the latest edition of the Women's Tennis Association guide, Venus Williams lists a determination to learn Italian and a passion for the theme music to Romeo and Juliet. Now we know why.

The 21-year-old tennis sensation has fallen in love with an Italian student who acted as her bodyguard in Rome two years ago.

Friends say that she and muscular fitness fanatic Davide Tomassoni, 25, are besotted with each other.

All of which will come as something of a shock to Venus's father Richard, who has determinedly prevented her and sister Serena forming friendships outside of tennis lest they distract the girls from their lucrative careers.

He once said of inter-racial marriage: 'Anyone that's marrying outside of this race should be hung by their necks until sundown.'

As for his estranged wife, Oracene, she is a devout Jehovah's Witness who forbade her daughters to see boys until they were 18 and does not hold with frivolous dating.

Powerful, 6ft 1in Venus has just signed a £27million sponsorship deal after winning her second consecutive Wimbledon title.

In a recent interview she insisted the only man in her life was Bobby, a nine-month-old Yorkshire terrier, and maintained she was still devoted to her tennis, saying: 'I can't have my mind anywhere else.'

But friends say it was 'love at first sight' when she met Davide, who is due to graduate in economics and science from the University of Florence this year.

He was working for a bodyguard agency part-time and was assigned to look after the world number three at the Italian Open tournament in May 1999.

Since then they have seen each other in Italy and the U.S., and have also met in London.

On July 16, after her Wimbledon triumph, she flew from Heathrow to Italy and met Davide in his home town of Jesi, a small town in the Apennine mountains west of Ancona.

He was keen for her to meet his family and she stayed at their apartment for a week.

Hands clasped together, the couple strolled along the winding streets of the town, shopping and eating ice-creams. They took a dip in the swimming pool of the local hotel, Federico II, where a member of staff said: 'The two of them couldn't keep their hands off each other.

'They were constantly kissing and cuddling and holding hands by the pool or on the sun lounger looking into each other's eyes.'

Davide took Venus out for a romantic meal in the La Recrocca restaurant in the old part of town before she flew back to the U.S. She is due to compete in a tournament in San Diego this week.

A friend of Davide said: 'The two have become very close indeed.

'When they met there really was a colpe di fulmine (lightning bolt) between them and they fell instantly in love.

'They had hoped to keep the relationship quiet but word leaked out and since then everyone has been asking him about it.

'Only a few people knew he was seeing her, just his closest friends and family.

'He is a very shy person really but an ideal bodyguard - he has huge muscles and is always working out.'

In a possible hint about her secret love, Venus has spoken of her desire to forge a life outside of her tennis, saying: 'I like it a lot but it's not my entire life.'

Yesterday, Davide's parents, who run a property business in Jesi, were unavailable for comment.

A secretary who answered the telephone said: 'Davide and Venus are seeing each other but I don't know anything else and no one will talk to you about it - certainly not them or him.'

When told at her Florida home last night that her daughter had been pictured with the handsome Italian, Oracene Williams was clearly underwhelmed. 'Really?' she said. 'That's nice for them.'
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this article was posted on Monday..

SHE was named after the goddess of love. And Venus Williams is finally up for it.

These exclusive pictures show the Wimbledon champ as she's never been seen before - partneringin a poolside doubles of romantic fun and games.

Like the story of the hit movie Bodyguard starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, Venus met new boyfriend Davide Tomassoniwhen she hired him to protect her during a tennis tournament in Italy.

The pair fell in love as she cruised to victory in the 1999 Rome championships and have met up regularly since.

What Venus's overpowering father and coach Richard makes of it is not known. She once promised him she'd never date until she was sure she had met the man she wanted to marry.

Until Davide, Venus, 21, is thought never to have had a serious boyfriend. And she was said to have disapproved strongly when her 19-year-old sister Serena began dating US football star LaVar Arrington.

Tennis was the one and only priority for the sisters, brought up in the ghettoes of Los Angeles.

And as Venus grew to fame and fortune - earlier this year she signed a five-year deal with sports firm Reebok worth around £20million - boys never seemed to figure.

Even this summer, when she successfully defended her women's single title at Wimbledon, she was playing it coy.

Asked by the BBC's Sue Barker if she had a partner for the post-tournament ball, Venus giggled: "No, I'm on the market." But 25-year-old Italian hunk Davide has been quietly there for her on the sidelines.

He is studying political economy at the University of Florence but still works part-time as a bodyguard.

Venus flew out to meet his parents, staying in their home in the tiny village of Jesi, near Ancona, with one of her older sisters and a female friend. It's where the pair were seen kissing and cuddling by the pool at the Re Federico Grande Hotel.

The pool is open to the public but despite her dazzling beauty and 6ft stature, the locals apparently didn't notice they had the world No1 in their midst.

A source said: "Davide and Venus were able to walk around Jesi without anyone bothering them - she didn't even have to sign an autograph all week. They really enjoyed each other's company."

I have been tearing up the net trying to find a picture, but to no avail...

isn't it great!!!??
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