Williams: I want to win my matches, that's all

Venus Williams drew the loudest cheers when making her entrance at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore draw ceremony on Friday, even breaking into a dance as she walked down the purple carpet at Marina Bay Sands.

At her press conference at the same venue yesterday, however, the slender, 1.85m-tall American was all business.

Decked entirely in black and accessorising with a matching handbag and gold headband, the American did not mince her words when asked what she thought about being drawn into the White Group, which comprises power hitters Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova and Jelena Ostapenko.

"I think that I want to win my matches, that's all," said the 2008 champion.

At 37, she is the oldest and most experienced player in the eight-strong field and the only one among them who has won the season-ending tournament.

She also has a career total of 49 singles titles, while the other seven have a combined 71.

Still, Williams expects the competition level to be high, starting with her first opponent Pliskova, whom she will face in the opening match at the Singapore Indoor Stadium today.

Said Williams: "When you get here, (high standards are) what you expect, so I don't necessarily see it as a top player. I see it as an opponent that I need to win against.

"The court is extremely slow, so you'll probably see some long points and long matches."

The seven-time Grand Slam champion is enjoying a resurgent season, after being diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome in 2011, an autoimmune disease which causes fatigue and muscle and joint pain.

This year, Williams reached her first Grand Slam final since 2009 but she lost the Australian Open title to younger sister Serena.

She then reached her second major final - a feat no other woman has achieved this season - at Wimbledon, where she lost to Spain's Muguruza.

That has brought the American, who made her WTA Finals debut at the 1999 edition in New York City and last appeared in the 2009 edition, all the way to Singapore and her first WTA Finals in this region.

Despite it being halfway around the world, she insisted: "I love Asia, so I'm always happy when I'm here."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 22, 2017, with the headline 'Williams: I want to win my matches, that's all'. Print Edition | Subscribe