Wimbledon: Venus Williams says she looks forward to Wimbledon next week. Venus Williams also has a book coming out.
AFP PHOTO/JACQUES DEMARTHON/Newscom
One is contested on grass, a speedy surface that accentuates the best aspects of her game; the other is contested on clay, a slow surface that dulls the impact of her powerful serves and groundstrokes.
Here, then, is another way to look at it: Williams' best Grand Slam tournament, Wimbledon, comes right after her worst Grand Slam tournament, the French Open. The sting she feels from early exits at Roland Garros, where play wrapped up less than two weeks ago, fuels her performances at the All England Club, where play begins Monday.
"There are no majors that are so close," the No. 2-ranked Williams said in a telephone interview. "It's easy to take that momentum of a win — or even a loss — straight into the next one, which happens to be Wimbledon."
She has a busy month ahead, with tennis to be played, of course, plus a new book to pitch. "Come to Win: Business Leaders, Artists, Doctors, and other Visionaries on How Sports Can Help You Top Your Profession" (Amistad/HarperCollins, 384 pages, $25.99) will be released June 29.
Williams and co-author Kelly E. Carter collected thoughts from nearly 50 people about sports' importance to their lives. Among the contributors: former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former General Electric Co. CEO Jack Welch, fashion designer Vera Wang, and former professional athletes such as Magic Johnson, Roger Staubach and Billie Jean King.
The book sets out to tell "the story of how good sport can be for people, the lessons you learn from it, and just encouraging people to be involved with sport, especially young people," Williams said.
She conducted some of the interviews herself — a task that generated some jitters — and when asked whether she came across a negative aspect of sports while putting together the book, Williams laughed.
"Losing," she said. "No one likes losing. But most people agree that you learn almost as powerful a lesson from losing sometimes as winning. That was a common denominator for sure."
In her book's preface, Williams writes: "When I lose, the pain is so intense, and the emotions roll through me."
She hasn't lost much at Wimbledon: Williams has reached eight of the past 10 finals there, winning the championship five times.
"Playing on grass is, you know, one of my favorite things to do," said the American, who turned 30 on Thursday. "I think it's definitely a lot easier to play at a tournament where I've been so successful. Obviously, this is one of them."
Not so with the French Open, the only major tournament where she hasn't reached the semifinals at least twice.
Williams lost in the fourth round there on May 30, the sixth time in the past eight years she exited Roland Garros at that stage or earlier. Similarly, her younger sister Serena never has been as dominant at the French Open as elsewhere: It's the only Grand Slam singles title she hasn't won at least three times.
"They hate to lose," Price said. "So when they get (to Wimbledon), they've got a different attitude."