LONDON: She turned professional in 1994, has just celebrated her 30th birthday and is about to embark on her 50th grand slam tournament, yet Venus Williams says she is still addicted to tennis.
"It`s awesome," Williams told reporters after a session on one of Wimbledon`s pristine practice courts on Saturday.
"I think I`m one of those people who`s addicted to tennis and I`m addicted to majors. All in all, I still have as much fun as I did the day I played my first match here."
As if to emphasise the point, when asked how she spent her birthday on Thursday, Williams said: "I went to practise and I went to the gym. Was it Thursday? Nothing special."
The imposing Williams is clearly at home at the All England Club where she has won the title on five occasions, only one fewer than fellow American Billie Jean King.
After an early exit at the French Open, Williams knows the slick Wimbledon lawns are tailor-made for her aggressive game and few would bet against yet another final here against sister Serena.
The challenges are expected to come from some of the Tour`s more seasoned players, such as Belgian duo Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin or even Italy`s Francesca Schiavone who won the French Open this month.
Of the top seeds only Caroline Wozniacki is still a teenager and Williams believes the balance of power is shifting.
"I think people are just able to accept that you can play tennis a lot longer," she said.
"I think before people didn`t go past 27. But I think it`s at this time that you most understand the game. It`s actually an advantage to be out here at this stage in the career."
"I just grind every day, day in, day out. I`m not thinking about age when I play."
The Wimbledon fortnight has become something of a family carve-up for the Williams sisters in the past two years when nobody else has been given a look-in.
Serena claimed her third singles title here last year and Venus her fifth in 2008. They have also won the women`s doubles for the past two years.
"It would be great for us to make the final in singles and doubles again," she said. "The last two years have been really great to anyone named Williams."
While staying in their rented house just a short stroll away from Centre Court, Venus has also been able to get familiar with the World Cup, even if she struggles with the rules of soccer.
"Serena watches it so I have to watch it but yesterday I did enjoy the American game," she said. "I don`t understand the rules in soccer so when something happens I`m confused. I`m learning slowly."
BDST: 1142hrs, June 20, 2010