Venus Williams’ Come Back and Summer Tennis Plans

04 Jul, 2016

* Article and Photo (Venus Williams at 2014 Bank of The West Classic) by Cindy Maram *

36-year-old veteran tennis player Venus Williams has been making a notable comeback this year. At the French Open, she out-played Alize Cornet, 7-6, 1-6, 6-0, in the third round. With great momentum she entered the fourth round at Roland-Garros for the first time since 2010. However, in that match against Timea Bacsinszky she was defeated, 2-6, 4-6. Currently, in champion-style at Wimbledon, Williams defeated Carla Suárez 7-6, 6-4 and will return to her first Wimbledon quarterfinals for the very first time since 2010.

And on the doubles front, alongside sister, Serena, the power duo is on a winning streak at Wimbledon beating Czech No.6 seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka. The unstoppable team is aiming to win their first Grand Slam doubles title together since four years prior at Wimbledon.

Further, Venus Williams will be participating in the Emirates Airline US Open Series, which is the five-week summer tennis season that links seven North American tournaments to the US Open. First stop, Stanford, for the 2016 Bank of The West Classic, highlighted by Venus, which will take place July 18-24, 2016. It will be the 46th year of the BOTWC tournament and the 25th year with Bank of The West as the event’s official title sponsor.

In a recent press conference call on June 15th, where Dig In was present, Venus Williams spoke to the media about her 2016 summer tennis plans just prior to Wimbledon.

Q: Venus, I’m wondering if there’s any sort of additional challenge when it comes to figuring out the right way to schedule your summer during an Olympic year.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Additional challenges? Absolutely because the Olympics is such a highlight, but at
the same time it’s important to play tournaments so you can continue with success on the tour. Also for me it’s making sure I have a little bit of a break. This year I’ve been very successful. I will be starting out with Stanford, Bank of the West, then playing one more event, then heading off to Rio is my plan.

Q: Venus, I would like your comment on the young American players who are coming up, possibly their chances at Wimbledon. You and Serena are going to be clearly leading the American charge, but we have CoCo Vandeweghe who played some very good tennis lately, and Madison Keys. Are you encouraged by the fact there might be some young players, Sloane Stephens in the mix, too, to follow in your steps as a great Wimbledon player?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, absolutely. The surface at Wimbledon has changed a lot since I first started. It’s a lot more forgiving, so it gives a lot of players more opportunity to be able to adjust quicker to the grass. Hopefully we’ll be able to see that with the young Americans. But they’ve been playing really well, especially this year. That’s great news for obviously the Olympic team and Fed Cup and all of the above. It’s pretty exciting prospects.

Q: Venus, different ways of prepping for the Olympics. Back in 2004 you played some tournaments before. The last couple you’ve kind of gone in straight from Wimbledon. Talk about what it meant to play tournaments leading into the Olympics, and then did you feel like it has any effect not playing events before the last couple Olympics?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, it’s kind of hard to remember because it happens every four years. So I don’t really remember how I felt or what tournaments I played four years ago. But I do know that, no matter what, at the Olympics you got to figure out a way to play your best, no matter what the circumstances, because it only happens every four years. Thankfully for me, I have a lot of experience. That will help me out in the long run.

Q: Venus, since your diagnosis several years back, you’ve played a lot of tennis, and recently some very good tennis. Has it gotten a lot easier for you to manage it? Have you found some new ways to manage it? Is there a way that you can keep yourself healthy more easily than you were at first?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I mean, of course the first couple years are really tough because there’s no road map. There’s no one who says, “This is how you do it, this is how you manage it.” It’s challenging. But I’ve
always wanted to rise to the challenge and the occasion. That’s not how I see it, as a disadvantage, but a challenge I’ve had to overcome. I’m always looking for different ways that I can be at my best, whether it’s eating, resting, different training regimens, whatever it may be. It’s definitely a constant search. I never give up.

Q: Venus, this part of the season, playing on the North American hard courts, what is your favorite thing about it? Also, as a player, what does it mean to have a series of tournaments like this package for you to play?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, it’s great to play at home in front of the home crowd. That’s the highlight. Being at home, being able to just play in the U.S., and there’s not as many opportunities as there was when I first started to play in the U.S., so it’s become really special at this point. It really becomes the last opportunity to do so until March. I really cherish that. I love hard courts. A lot of people think my favorite surface is grass, but actually I grew up on hard courts, so I prefer that. I feel right at home on it.

Q. Venus, can you talk about how important it is for you to have the series as a preparation for the US Open.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, absolutely. Coming in, of course, you want to come in strong, playing a lot of matches, hopefully winning titles. It gives you confidence going into such a big event as the US Open. But even if you don’t win, you’re able to hone your game, work through mistakes or chinks in your armor. Unfortunately, as much as you train, there’s always something to work on. It gives you the opportunity to figure out, “What do I need to perfect at this moment in time?”

Q. We saw your dress that you’re going to be wearing in Rio. I wanted to ask a little bit about that in terms of the inspiration. Aside from needing the red, white and blue, what else inspired you? Also, what tips do you have for the newbies going into the Olympics about trading pins?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, the dress, my dress at the Olympics is always inspired by Wonder Woman. Each and every Olympics it’s Wonder Woman as the inspiration. It never changes. Second, trading pins, you know, it’s definitely about trading pins, but once you start trading pins, you find out it’s about meeting people. That experience of meeting somebody you’ll maybe never see again, but the connection you have with them, the joy you have from meeting them, that is the best part of it all. It’s an interesting byproduct that you don’t expect. Then you have your pins for memories when you look back to remember those times at the Olympics. That’s awesome as well.

Q: With the Wonder Woman inspiration, are you going to have gold wristbands or is that too much?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I should. I’ll probably do a special Olympic hair, though. Maybe I’ll come back with colored hair. I haven’t done that in a while.

Stay tuned for the start of the Emirates Airline US Open Series at the Bank of The West Classic starting on July 18th. Special thanks to Bank of The West Classic, WTA and Emirates Airline US Open Series.

About the author

Cindy Maram

Cindy Maram is Founder, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Dig In Magazine. She is an accredited film journalist for Cannes Film Festival in the South of France, Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival and CAAMFest, as well as fashion & style photographer/blogger for London Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week, professional sports photographer/writer and art critic. She is a writer, vlogger & social media community manager possessing a B.A from UC Davis and a M.A. in Mass Communications + Popular Culture Studies emphasis in Film/Marketing/Writing from Cal State Fullerton.

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