Venus Williams was touted as a prodigy from the moment she started playing tennis. When she made her professional debut at the age of 14, the world took notice when the teenager gave World No. 2 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario a tough fight before eventually going down.
Williams made her debut at the Bank of the West Classic in October 1994. In her very first match she was up against fellow American Shaun Stafford, who had reached the fourth round at Roland Garros earlier that year. She made a triumphant start to her professional career, winning her debut match 6-3 6-4.
Following her debut win, Williams stated in her post-match conference that she was a little surprised she felt no nerves at all. She knew she was going to play well and felt unstoppable. The confidence and self-assurance that would make her one of the sport's best was already visible at the tender age of 14.
"I was a little surprised how I wasn't nervous at all, or excited or jumpy, or you know yelling and screaming, but I wasn't surprised because I know I can play and that no one's going to stop me."
Venus Williams played fearlessly against her much celebrated opponent
Up against Sanchez Vicario in the next round, who had won the French Open and US Open that year, many thought it would be a one-sided affair. While the Spaniard would go on to win, no one could have predicted how things would unfold during the match.
Venus Williams came out all guns blazing, quickly winning the first set 6-2 as her opponent barely had time to process what was happening. The young American went up a break in the second set too, before Sanchez Vicario got a grip on the match and turned things around.
While trailing in the second set, the World No. 2 took a bathroom break. This disrupted Williams' rhythm and she never recovered after that.
Sanchez Vicario went on to win the second set 6-3 and dished out a bagel to her younger rival in the 3rd. Williams recently admitted that although this was a match she should have won, it was nevertheless a learning experience for her.
Despite the loss, the world witnessed the birth of a champion in California that evening, as Venus Williams would later go on to etch her name in the record books. As for her rivalry with Sanchez Vicario, the head-to-head ended up being 6-3 in the American's favor.
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