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The wit and wisdom of Venus Williams

June 25, 2014 04:24 PM
Venus Williams is a five-time Wimbledon champion, last winning the title in 2008.
Lauren Davis was all smiles after beating No. 12 seed Flavia Pennetta in the second round of Wimbledon.

By Sandra Harwitt, special to USTA.com

The other day Venus Williams told the assembled media at Wimbledon that she has nothing to prove to anyone and of course, she’s exactly right. A seven-time Grand Slam champion — five of those wins on Wimbledon’s lawns — she’s undeniably a true champion.

And on Wednesday, after securing a 7-6, 6-1 second-round win over Kurumi Nara of Japan, the 30th-ranked Williams spent a delightful 15 minutes entertaining the international media with her points-of-view on a diverse range of subjects, proving that she’s still undeniably engaging as well.

The 34-year-old Williams waxed poetic about her tennis, thoughts on art, her new braided bun hairstyle and more. Here’s a sampling of the wit and wisdom of Williams:

On her taste in art: “Favorite artist?  Right now, Picasso. But I think art is in everything, and everything is inspirational. My favorite artist, probably Glenn Ligon right now or Walead Beshty.”

On her favorite museum: “That’s hard to choose. I’m not necessarily the person that wants to go look at a painting. It’s a little static for me. I like history. I like the museums about the history of the city, like the Museum of London. Those kinds of things intrigue me a little bit more.”

On her hairstyle: “I am African-American. I think I was born in braids. When I came out I had braids in my hair already. If you grow up as an African-American, it’s kind of part of the culture. …I never know what hairstyle I’m going to come out with, honestly. It will be different in two weeks … but I’m enjoying this one for the moment.”

On her attraction to playing the Olympics: “For me the Olympics, the feeling of playing there, was something I didn’t expect the first time [I played] in 2000. For me, playing there is beyond anything I dreamed.”

Williams is well aware that it’s been a while since she’s had a good showing at a Grand Slam event. Into the third round now, this marks only the second time since 2011 when she posted a fourth-round showing at Wimbledon that she’s reached the third round at a major. The last time she made the third round at a Slam was at the 2013 Australian Open.

Despite being troubled by the autoimmune disease, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Williams been insistent about soldiering on since the 2011 diagnosis. This year, she’s already won the prestigious Dubai title over a weighty field that included younger sister, Serena.

Clearly she’s maintained her thirst for victory. Asked if she wished she could win another Grand Slam title, Williams first became practical and then refused to limit her possibilities.

“Wishes don’t come true,” Williams said. “You have to work at it. I won’t start wishing. I’ll start working, running, hitting some winners. That will serve me more. I would be greedy, I wouldn’t say I want one. I want singles, I want doubles, gold medals. While I’m on tour I’m going to aim for the best I can.”

Undoubtedly, the next match will be trickier for Williams as she takes on 2011 Wimbledon champion and sixth seed  Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, who ousted Mona Barthel, 6-2, 6-0, in the second round.

“Our matches have always been tough,” said Williams, who has lost to Kvitova three of the four times they’ve played, each of those matches going three sets. “I know I’ll have to get out there and play better than her,” said Williams. “The last point, make sure I’m winning it instead of losing it.”

Williams will be joined in the third round by fellow American Lauren Davis, who upset No. 12 seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy, 6-4, 7-6 (4).

Showing no signs of nerves, Davis laced a backhand winner on her first match point to record one of the best wins of her career and reach the third round of a Grand Slam for the second time this year. (She also advanced to the round of 32 at the Australian Open.) Next up for her is Peng Shuai of China.

In a match on Court 2 that was filled to capacity, Sam Querrey and No. 14 Jo-Wilfred Tsonga battled for more than three hours before play was suspended by darkness with Querrey serving, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-6, 3-6, 9-9. They are expected to finish the match on Thursday.

Two other Americans weren’t as fortunate in their second-round matches, with Varvara Lepchenko and CoCo Vandeweghe both losing in straight sets.

Seven Americans will take the court for their second-round singles matches on Thursday, including No. 1 seed Serena Williams, No. 9 seed John Isner, Madison Keys and Jack Sock.

Additional reporting by McCarton Ackerman



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