Venus Williams: Tennis is not the sport you choose to play

Venus Williams: Tennis is not the sport you choose to play

Serena and Venus Williams knocked out of doubles’ play by Czech duo at US Open

In the end, we’re all just trying to have fun. And I think all of us really enjoy competing and playing hard, and wanting to be on the winners’ side, and wanting to win.

— Venus Williams

With a career that’s been defined by consistency, Williams doesn’t get to play as much tennis as she would like. She turns 35 in August and has made only two Grand Slam doubles finals in the last four years, both of them coming at the U.S. Open.

On the other hand, the two opponents at the U.S. Open who had the most to play for, in the semifinal at Flushing Meadows and the final, were in another world entirely.

Tennis was not the chosen sport by Venus Williams when she was growing up on the South Side of Chicago.

Growing up without a father, who was often traveling, Williams often had to fend for herself and her sister. She was a natural athlete, but a reluctant one.

“I was a huge gymnast and I liked to play tennis with my sisters and cousins,” says the elder Williams, who won her first junior singles title at age 14. “When I was 14, I started playing singles. I was very shy. I didn’t know I could play tennis well. So at first I was just a little tweener. I was a little kid in tennis.”

It turned out her life took a 180-degree turn when she was 14. When she moved away from her aunt and took up tennis with her father, Tom, he was less than enthusiastic about the game.

“He didn’t like me playing tennis,” Venus says, “and I didn’t know why. He used to take me to the courts in South Deering, which is a huge suburb in Chicago, and I started playing little league — nothing more than tennis — and I loved it. He’d go on the courts and get beat, and I’d go on and get beat. So I decided, I’m gonna do this for me. I’m gonna do it for my father.”

At 16, Venus was ranked No. 20 in singles and No. 9 in doubles. She

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