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The Williams sisters haven't been without their detractors. Others have said they lack fire when they compete with each other in the finals.And their father has taken heat for what some call peculiar behavior.Venus and Serena were just 13 and 12 when Richard declared they would one day be the top two tennis players in the world. Serena: I knew it was different, but I didn't expect it to make such a big hit as it did. Do you always pay a lot of attention to what you'll wear in the finals? If I don't wear something I feel confident in, I don't play as well. Getting back to tennis, how do you prepare for competition? Of course, you must have a lot of physical skill, but you can't play tennis well and not be a good thinker.Start reading Oprah's interview with Venus and Serena Williams Note: This interview appeared in the March 2003 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. Venus: A hairdresser at a salon in New York told me that Serena's catsuit was making gay men turn straight! Oprah: What message are you trying to communicate with your bold outfits? You win or lose the match before you even go out there.Oprah: Venus, I know you've started an interior design business called V Starr Interiors. Oprah: Years ago, your father predicted you'd become the top two players in the world. Serena: One day my dad just said to each of us, "Go ahead—pick a tournament you want to win." Venus: I said Wimbledon. Venus: We've been training and playing full-time since we were 18 and 19.Venus: My mom has been worried about me because I've been working overtime to get the company going—I have to work hard if I want it to be successful. Serena: I said Wimbledon, too, and he demanded that I pick another tournament. So after tennis, we'll be excited to see what it's like to have more free time.Oprah: Serena, people are still talking about that catsuit you wore to the U. Venus: Along with our best game, we want to bring our personalities onto the court. You also win with your reputation and how you played the day before.How we dress says a lot about how we feel and who we are. Serena and I have a history of winning, and we hope that continues.
Oprah: Preparing for the finals at Wimbledon, do you think about going in and slamming each other? If I'm going out to play Serena, I've got my game plan, and I know what I have to do to be successful. I hate seeing children argue with their parents and siblings on TV. I want to be a good example for my family and of my religion. Oprah: And being connected to the essence of who you are? Even after you become a doctor, you have to continue studying. You study and learn—and then you don't just give it up and put it in the cupboard.
Oprah: Venus, don't you design your own line of clothing for Wilsons Leather? Serena and I went to fashion design school, so we're not just walking around saying, "We want to be fashion girls." We're actually educated in the matter. I thought it was classy of you to accept your award in French at the French Open. Serena: When we were younger, we watched a tennis player do the same after winning the French Open. Oprah: When the two top-ranked women in tennis step onto the court, isn't that already a head trip for the opponent? My goal is always the same: to keep the other player from ever scoring a point.
Venus and I decided that when we got there, we'd also be able to speak French. That doesn't always happen, but that's what I try for.
Serena: When we were younger, it was difficult for me to play Venus because she'd always beat me so badly. Even now when we practice together, I have to watch out because she'll just blow me off the court. Venus: As Venus the tennis player, my goal is to be the best at what I do. Once, when we were younger, I ran out of lunch money, and we were both hungry. We still tease our mom because she didn't allow us not to get along. Oprah: Venus, was there ever a time when you cared what people thought? Oprah: That's mighty—to be raised female and not have that concern. We were taught that things like peer pressure didn't exist for us. Oprah: I like what your father said: We don't see Bill Gates out there socializing with everybody. I remember another player once saying "Venus didn't say hi to me." She didn't say hi, either.
Venus said, "Serena, you take my money—you go eat." And it was fried chicken day at school! Oprah: Does coming from such a strong family help you handle the criticism that comes with living in the public eye? " Most of the lies people tell about us are eventually washed away, so they don't bother me. Oprah: With all that's been said and written, is there one thing people most often misunderstand about you?