Venus Williams loves museums, vegan food and late nights
NEW YORK — Venus Williams has won seven major singles titles and reached the finals this year at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon. But as well as her success on the tennis court she says that one of the best parts of her career has been getting a chance to see the world.
“I travel so much for tennis that I don’t count how often I’m on the road, but the sport has definitely taken me to some interesting places,” said the 37-year-old. Speaking to The New York Times, she shares some of her favourites places and travelling habits.
Q: What are some of your favourite destinations that you’ve travelled to for tennis?
A: I am a huge fan of Hong Kong because I am a night person, and it is a night city.
I love to walk around at 11 or 12 in the evening because there are restaurants and other spots still open, and the streets are full of people. Also, although it is a big city with tall buildings, there’s a nature feel because you’re surrounded by mountains, water and greenery.
Another top spot is Rome. I love the energy of the city and have a lot of good friends there, which makes going that much more amazing. And earlier this year, I went to St. Petersburg. It was my first trip to Russia, and I was really taken by Russian history, culture and art.
Q: When you are travelling to compete in tournaments, how much free time do you typically have in a destination, and what do you enjoy doing with that time?
A: Seeing small museums always interests me whenever I have downtime because they feel manageable. In Paris, I enjoyed the Musée de Cluny. It takes an hour to get through the whole museum, and it has cool Roman baths and medieval art.
In London, I like the Museum of London, where you can learn about the city’s history, but as a tennis player, I never want to be seeing too much of any place where I am for a tournament because that means I’ve lost. If you leave the city at the end of a tournament, you may not have seen much, but at least you won or came close to winning. It’s nice to like a city and be able to go back and see it properly. I haven’t had the chance to do that with any place yet because my work schedule is still intense, but I will down the line.
Q: You’ve spoken previously about your love of good food. What kind of food do you seek out when you’re travelling?
A: I do enjoy good meals and like to call myself a cheating vegan, which means that I’ll normally try to seek out something vegan, but may cheat depending on what I’m craving.
In trips to Paris and Las Vegas, I really wanted a chilli dog and found great vegan chilli dogs in both cities. One of my favourite restaurants, Christopher’s Kitchen, happens to be near where I live. I love the raw vegetable lasagna and the smoothies.
On this trip to New York, I hope to discover some of the city’s vegan restaurants.
Q: How do you stay in top physical form to compete when you have to combat jet lag and the other challenges that come with travel?
A: It takes some discipline, but wherever I am in the world, whether it’s China or Australia, I hit the gym the day I land and then practise for the match. I also don’t sleep during the day and push myself to stay up until 10pm. Between the travel and my training that day, I’m usually pretty tired by the evening and don’t have a hard time falling sleep.
Q: What, for you, makes for a great hotel?
A: In the past, I’ve liked staying at boutique hotels with a design element and I’m still into properties with a focus on design like the New York Edition, where I stayed when I was in the city last time, or the 21c Museum Hotel where I stayed when I was in Cincinnati. But lately, I’ve come to appreciate hotels with great service and comfort, and I think that the Four Seasons is a winner for both.
I also love the Lotte New York Palace, which has such a classic New York atmosphere. And despite where I am staying, I like visiting other hotels in the city and asking to see a room so that I can get a sense of what the property is like. My company, V Starr Interiors, designs hotel spaces so I love to see what other hotels do with their space and aesthetic.
Q: Check-in or carry-on?
A: Check-in because I have my racquets. They’re too big to take on board.
Q: When you’re not working, where do you like travelling to for vacation?
A: My favourite vacation destination is Palm Beach Gardens, where I live. People actually come to vacation here and why wouldn’t they? The beaches are fantastic and I can get in a great beach run or workout. The atmosphere is all vacation.THE NEW YORK TIMES