"I had such an attitude back then, no wonder they hated me" - Venus Williams recalls her US Open debut

Venus Williams reacted to her debut campaign at the US Open in 1997
Venus Williams reacted to her debut campaign at the US Open in 1997
Shyam Kamal

Venus Williams recently uploaded a video to her YouTube channel where she reminisced about her debut at the US Open. The American played in the 1997 US Open as a 17-year-old and finished as the runner-up. In the process, she became the first unseeded player in the Open Era to reach the final at the tournament.

Recalling her first-round match against Larisa Savchenko-Nieland, the seven-time Grand Slam champion remarked that she was nervous about playing in front of her home crowd at the newly-opened Arthur Ashe stadium.


Upon rewatching the emphatic manner in which she celebrated the 5-7, 6-0, 6-1 win, Venus Williams jokingly rebuked herself for the "attitude" she displayed back then.

"It was the first round of my first ever US Open," Williams said. "It was also the first time they opened the Arthur Ashe stadium. And I think mine was the second ever match at the stadium. I remember being so nervous."
"I was so nervous I couldn't even play the first set without choking," she added. "But I also had such an attitude, no wonder they hated me."
Venus Williams watching and reacting to reaching her first major final at the age of 17 is so cool. ❀️She looks back at her US Open debut in 1997 from R1 to the final on her latest YouTube vid. The memories, the feels. 😭 A must-watch. #VenusWilliams #SerenaWilliams

In the third round of the tournament, Venus Williams took on eighth seed Anke Huber. Williams revealed that was the match where she truly got over her nerves, as "something clicked" in her mind.

Once again looking at her upbeat victory celebrations, the former World No. 1 asserted that it was just an expression of joy. She refuted claims that they were impolite to her opponents, and insisted it was a genuine reaction on her part.

"In the third-round match, I remember something just clicking and I suddenly knew how to play tennis," Williams said. "I was so serious. I love my attitude there, all business."
"I still do this little jump after I win. I was so happy," she added. "People hated me because they said I did not acknowledge my opponents enough, but I don't think there is anything wrong with what I did. I was just happy."

The quarterfinal encounter against Sandrine Testud is what Venus Williams believes was the real turning point of her campaign. Even though she did not have a game plan going into the match, the American recalled how she had the self-belief she needed to "just go for it".

"I remember the quarterfinal against Sandrine Testud," the 41-year-old went on. "It was her first Grand Slam quarterfinal as well. It looks like I have a game plan here, but I really did not. I know for a fact that I did not know what I was doing."
"This match was when I really had to decide if I wanted to do this or not and if I was going to really bet on myself," she added. "I remember thinking, 'Oh you've done well. it would be okay if you didn't win this one.' But then I thought, 'No, actually. It wouldn't be okay.' That's when I decided to just go for it."

"17-year-old me is more mature than whatever age I am now" - Venus Williams

Venus Williams reckoned that she was more mature at 17 years of age than she is now
Venus Williams reckoned that she was more mature at 17 years of age than she is now

Venus Williams squared off against 11th seed Irina Spirlea in the semifinals, from which she recounted an incident that was not shown in the original video. The 41-year-old disclosed that the two players bumped into each other during the mid-match changeover, leading to a heated exchange between her father Richard and Spirlea.

Venus, however, is proud of the fact that she stayed out of the argument and focused on her game instead. Recalling how she conducted herself back then, the American remarked that her 17-year-old self had more maturity than she does now.

"The semifinal got really nasty but I showed real maturity," Venus said. "17-year-old me is more mature than whatever age I am now. They didn't show it in the clip, but we bumped into each other during the changeover. Afterwards it just got crazy - my dad said some things, she said some things."
"But I stayed out of it," she added. "I don't do drama, I am not a drama queen. I just kept my mouth shut and said, 'Well, she is entitled to her own opinion or whatever.' I was focussed on the tennis. I kept it all about the tennis."
Venus talks about the infamous bump between her and Irina Spirlea in the 1997 US Open semifinal. Not surprising, Vee is very diplomatic. :) #VenusWilliams πŸŽ₯: Venus Williams YouTube

Venus Williams attributed her 0-6, 4-6 loss in the final against Martina Hingis to her nerves and lack of experience. She added that she never regretted that loss, and instead thought of it as a learning experience that could help her in the future.

"I could never let go of the nerves in the final," Williams said. "Also, I did not believe I could win it. I did not know how to win it. I had no experience. Martina was also 17 but she was No. 1 in the world and her level of experience was way beyond mine and she was so talented."
"More than anything, it comes down to the belief," she added. "I got more competitive in the second set, but I just did not have the experience. Sometimes, that is all it comes down to. I was never unhappy with myself about this match because these are the moments that you build on. That's what I got out of it."

Three years later, Venus Williams went all the way at Flushing Meadows to win her second Grand Slam and first ever US Open title. She also won the title the next year in 2001, without the loss of a single set.

Also Check Out: What is Venus William's Networth In 2022?

Edited by Musab Abid


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