When Venus Williams played in Mamaroneck last night, she seemed really happy to be there. Not the, smile-cuz-I-gotta nice, but she chatted with fans as if she was genuinely enjoying it.
I’ve seen her play a lot, starting from when she was just a teen in beads, and she really just exuded a charm and confidence that I haven’t seen outside the moments immediately after a big win.
World Team Tennis cofounder Billie Jean King was there, and I asked her what she thought of the USTA’s new closed locker room policy. She looked up and said, “You’re in the trenches so I want to know what you think.”
King really gets that the media needs to get access to players in order for them to get the spotlight. Yesterday, Venus’ appearance was the centerpiece of the sports front page, and tennis players of her caliber are some of the only professional athletes who get that play.
Ultimately she said, players need to get in the media room right after a match so everyone can make deadline, and players should give 1-on-1s after that. The fact that King let me spend halftime with her talking about this issue is proof that she practices that kind of accessibility herself.
Lastly, former WTA player Lindsay Davenport had a little boy on June 10, and she will be playing a WTT match. For those keeping score at home, she’s back to competitive tennis about six weeks after a C-Section.
“I looked at it really as kind of a fun challenge,” Davenport said, “to see, you know, if I could come back so quickly and kind of get me a little kick in the pants to get back being active, you know, being healthy and all of that stuff.”
She is nursing Jagger, and he will be traveling with her for the July 21 match in Sacramento. Davenport said that the process has made her aware of the inherent tension between work and motherhood.
“I totally understand now the working mom’s guilt,” Davenport said. “If I go out and practice, I feel bad about leaving him. If I’m home trying to do stuff, I feel bad cleaning up the house or whatever.”