Venus says she still loves playing

Updated: January 6, 2009, 10:02 AM ET
Associated Press

HONG KONG -- Despite watching some of her biggest rivals hang up their rackets in recent years, seven-time major champion Venus Williams says she still has plenty of goals in tennis.

"I love my job. I love hitting balls, running, jumping, chasing after that ball. I love what I do, so that's what keeps me motivated," the 28-year-old Williams said Tuesday in Hong Kong ahead of a tuneup exhibition tournament for the Australian Open.

While many of her contemporaries, like Belgians Justin Henin and Kim Clijsters, and Switzerland's Martina Hingis have left the WTA Tour, the older Williams sister said she's still hungry for more.

Williams has won Wimbledon five times and the U.S. Open twice, but has had less success at the two other Grand Slam tournaments. She reached the final at the French Open in 2002 and the Australian Open in 2003.

"I haven't won the French or the Australian, although I've come pretty close, so those are definitely on my list," Williams said, adding that reclaiming the No. 1 ranking this year is a realistic goal.

Williams, ranked No. 6, enjoyed a strong season in 2008 with wins at Wimbledon and the season-ending WTA Championship in Doha, Qatar, and said she's feeling healthy after a four-week break from tennis.

"Nothing to complain about right now," Williams said.

The American is playing in Hong Kong starting Wednesday in her only preparation for the Australian Open, which begins Jan. 19.

She will captain the Americas squad in a team format that also features Serbian and top-ranked Jelena Jankovic, Russians Vera Zvonareva and Anna Chakvetadze, Hungary's Agnes Szavay, China's Zheng Jie and India's Sania Mirza.

Williams also said she will sparingly use new WTA Tour rules that allow on-court coaching starting this year.

"I'll probably call the coach if my opponent calls the coach. ... I'll be watching to see what she does," she said.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press