Venus Looking for 5th Title

June 23, 2008 7:50:00 AM PDT
Venus Williams is already thinking about how a fifth Wimbledon title might change her. She thinks it might even be more emotional than her first.

"I'm definitely not a crier. I'm the most happiest winner ever," she says, describing the big smile and pirouette that have followed her previous titles, "but maybe I would even cry."

She flashed a smile as she pondered that celebration for a while Sunday at a news conference for the defending champions on the eve of the tournament. Then she quickly snapped back into professional mode.

"But that's so long from now. Two weeks is a long time, especially if it rains. So my main focus is most certainly that first round."

The women's champion will get a Tuesday start on Centre Court against Naomi Cavaday, a British wild-card entry with a No. 199 ranking.

Younger sister Serena was getting the Court 1 program started Monday against Estonia's Kaia Kanepi at the same time as Roger Federer was to start his bid for a sixth consecutive Wimbledon title against Dominik Hrbaty on Centre Court, the traditional start to the tournament.

Ana Ivanovic, who ascended the top of the rankings when she won her first major at the French Open two weeks ago, was to follow Federer on Centre Court in her first-round match against Rossana De Los Rios.

Ivanovic's fellow Serbian Jelena Jankovic, ranked No. 2, and No. 3 Maria Sharapova are on the bottom half of the draw with Venus Williams on a side that will be challenging to survive.

Wimbledon 2000 was Venus' first Grand Slam title, coming off a brief clay court swing after four months out with wrist tendinitis, she beat top-ranked Martina Hingis in the quarterfinals, her sister in the semis and defending champion Lindsay Davenport in the final.

She won the U.S. Open a few months later - replacing Serena as champion - and successfully defended both titles in 2001, giving her four wins in six majors.

Her two Grand Slam triumphs since then have been at Wimbledon, in 2005 - after a stretch of five losing finals to Serena from the '02 French Open to Wimbledon '03 when the Williams sisters were at the peak of their powers - and in '07.

It's little wonder she likes coming back to the manicured lawn courts at the All England Club.

"I just think it's the ultimate place to play your best tennis," she says. "The most wonderful tournament to win would definitely be here.

"I've been blessed to do well a few times here, so that feels obviously very good. I just love it here. It's good for my game, too."

She would likely have to get past Jankovic in the quarterfinals and 2004 champion Sharapova in the semis to make another final and maybe that chance she'll allow herself to tear up a little.

"Of course I think about that," she said. "But I know that I'm going to have to work for it. I'm willing to pay that price. "

The Williams sisters have entered in the doubles at a major for the first time since 2003, hoping to add to their six Grand Slam doubles titles and maybe rehearse for the Beijing Olympics.

Being on opposite halves of the singles draw, they can't meet until the final. And that's a good thing, as far as Venus sees it.

"I have the most respect for Serena as a player on tour. Definitely I see her as a player who can produce any shot at any time from anywhere," she says. "So I would say that obviously it would be great to meet her in the finals, but we have to work at it."

Of the other, younger contenders - 20-year-old Ivanovic's name is mentioned - Venus, who turned 28 last week, is less forthcoming.

"I mean, obviously she's playing well. No particular observations," she said. "I really don't know much about the favorites or what have you going into this year. I've been really just head to the ground, just practicing and training.

"Ultimately the best player will win. I'm going to aim for that to be me."