Venus Williams reveals why she fears playing exhibition matches
Former Wimbledon champion Venus Williams took centre stage for the opening of Wimbledon’s revamped No.1 court on Sunday, but the American admits she broke one of her own rules by taking part in an exhibition match against former world No 1 Kim Clijsters.
Williams broke away from her preparations for the French Open to set foot on the grass courts at the All England Club and she revealed why she rarely accepts invitations to take part in tennis matches away from the main WTA Tour.
— Venus Williams (@Venuseswilliams) May 19, 2019
“I never really play well in exhibition matches because I’m always quite nervous because I play so badly, but this was a lot of fun,” she said. “It was great to not only be out here for the opening but for a great cause. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“It was surreal being back at Wimbledon outside of the tournament. It made me actually really grateful to be able to play this game and have some reflection over the years. When you’re here for the tournament you don’t think you’re stressed but you are. Today I smiled the whole time during the match. It was a great experience.
“You hear that echo of the ball and you hear the crack when the roof is on. It is like a whip and it’s very impressive to hear that sound. The orchestra… I hope they keep that for the tournament – it’s amazing! It was a very, very special vibe.
“I remember my first time playing here and I played on Court One. I played on Saturday in the tournament instead of Monday as scheduled. That was six days waiting to play so you are definitely going to see a huge difference in getting the matches through.
“It was so nice because I could enjoy the reception from the crowd. During the tournament, you’re going over your last moments of the game plan and it’s so intense but today I just got to smile and enjoy it and this opportunity doesn’t come along often as you get to walk out on court at Wimbledon in front of a crowd and actually smile.”
Williams beat Clijsters in an entertaining encounter, as she admitted her opponent could still compete on the WTA Tour.
“She was hitting the ball so cleanly,” added Williams of mother-of-three Clijsters. “It was great to get out there with Kim and there is no doubt she could still win matches on the tour if she got some practice in.”
Follow Kevin Palmer on Twitter @RealKevinPalmer
More from Tennis365:
Nick Kyrgios on Novak Djokovic: ‘He’s technically our LeBron James and has to set an example for tennis’
Nick Kyrgios on his latest criticism of Novak Djokovic.
Andy Murray facing ‘huge year’, but brother Jamie says former world No 1 still has ‘a lot of great tennis in him’
Jamie Murray on brother Andy’s comeback hopes.
Daniela Hantuchova praises Naomi Osaka for being a ‘wonderful inspiration in women’s tennis’
“What a wonderful young grown-up lady she has become.”
Spanish player feels ‘abandoned’ after positive coronavirus test: ‘It’s the worst experience of my career’
“It’s far and away the worst experience of my career.”
Rafael Nadal’s thinly veiled jibe after Novak Djokovic quarantine pleas: ‘Some of us help each other privately’
Rafael Nadal has his say on the quarantine saga.
Exclusive – Barbara Schett insists Novak Djokovic had good intentions with his letter to Australian Open chief
Barbara Schett talks to Tennis365 about Novak Djokovic.
Former world No 1 urges Australian public to give Novak Djokovic ‘another chance to explain himself’
“He was being a leader and it just came off wrong.”
Ashleigh Barty happy to ‘knuckle down’ and get back into routine ahead of Australian Open
Ashleigh Barty ready for her big comeback.
2021 Australian Open prize money breakdown: Smaller cheques for winners, boost for first-round losers
A look at the 2021 Australian Open prize money.
Nick Kyrgios ‘very misunderstood’, but he will ‘always have your back’, says fellow Australian
“We’re almost brothers – pretty close.”