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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Venus gives press the runaround

Photo Titled Venus victorious
Venus Williams celebrates her victory over Kateryna Bondarenko on Centre Court.

Five-time champion Venus Williams played a jovial game of cat-and-mouse with journalists trying to pin her down on the reason why she had worn heavy strapping on her left leg during her straight sets victory over Kateryna Bondarenko.

When the 29-year-old was asked what had been bothering her, you could spot rows of journalists at her post-match press conference lean forward ready to note down anything that might throw a big – newsworthy – obstacle in the way of her progress towards the latter stages of The Championships.

Williams simply responded that she felt “comfortable in the strap” and it was “really nice”.

Not exactly the answer the press was expecting – or wanting. So on to question two. What was the problem that prompted her to wear the strapping?

Another less than informative reply followed from the normally chatty player. “Just for support,” she explained.

Still things were no clearer so another question followed. “There’s nothing you aggravated, was there, the other day?” another journalist asked.

“No. It’s just for support. That’s all,” she said.

“What caused you to use it, and how did your condition change so that you did use it this time and you haven’t before,” another journalist attempted.

Then the fun and games began. “Well, what happened was that I needed some support, and then I went and got the support, and then I wore it in the match,” she said with just a touch of sarcasm.

“I’ll be wearing it in the doubles too. So it’s working out. I mean, I think all the players might start wearing it because it’s so… supportive,” she laughed.

Williams would not budge on the issue and refused to confirm whether the tape was in aid of anything serious. However, she admitted that she hates the stuff and was only wearing it because the tournament was ‘Wimbledon’.

Even when an effort was made to move on to another subject, another journalist returned to the issue, asking what sort of pain in the leg had prompted the need for the strapping.

By now even Williams was seeing the funny side: “Ah teamwork. It’s just like the men’s doubles!” Again, she added that she felt she needed support on her leg and it had worked well.

It is perhaps understandable that Williams is holding her cards close to her chest – she is competing for her sixth Wimbledon crown and if she is injured, even in a minor way, she clearly will not want her opponents knowing about it.

But there was one element of support the older Williams sister was happy to talk about and that was in the form of American president Barack Obama.

When asked whether she would consider inviting him to watch her at Wimbledon, she said: “Oh, he’s got a lot on his plate. I don’t know if he has time for me. I would be honoured if he was here.”

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