CenterStage Preview: Venus Williams

Tennis champ's sitdown with Michael Kay premieres Wednesday at 11 pm on YES
05/29/2013 12:58 PM ET
By Staff

CenterStage with Venus Williams premieres Wednesday, May 29 at 11 pm on YES.(AP)
Wednesday night marks the premiere of an all-new CenterStage with the multi-talented Venus Williams, who sat down with Michael Kay recently to talk about her well-known tennis career, her budding career as a fashion designer, and much, much more, including her battle with Sjogren's Syndrome and how that's affected her life both on and off the court.

CenterStage with Venus Williams premieres tonight at 11 p.m., immediately following the Yankees Postgame Show on YES, but before that, here’s a little preview of what Venus had to say in her sitdown with Michael Kay:

Venus on her father’s influence on her as she was growing up:
“I think those talks framed my life. My dad would sit us all down and he would ask questions like, “Well, why does a rich man get richer and a poor man get poorer?”And I was like, six years old, and I was like, “I don’t know.” So it would be all kinds of questions that would just make us be independent thinkers. Once we watched Cinderella, and we thought, “Oh, yeah, we’re having a great time.” But then there was a question and answer session after, like, “What was the most important thing in the film?” We’re all like, “Oh, no.” But looking back, it was just invaluable, it was a wonderful experience.

I was a regular kid. My dad would want us to only watch educational programs. So when he’d come back, we’d make sure it was on National Geographic (channel) and if you pressed the last button, it went to the History Channel. But in reality, we were watching MTV.

What it was like facing her sister Serena for the first time at a major professional tournament, at the 1998 Australian Open:
“Well, it was the first time we ever played each other. I think both of us, we just wanted to win. I think the first time was very close, and then I had a little more experience at the time. I wanted to win, she wanted to win, and that’s how it still is whenever we play each other. It’s hard because I think we have so much respect for each other’s game. You’re just rooting for whoever lost the last time, or whoever didn’t get a chance to win or who hadn’t won as much lately. I think that’s kind of the feeling.”

Why her 2000 Olympic Gold Medal is so special:
“It’s definitely above and beyond (her other tennis titles). I at the time didn’t realize it, and I wouldn’t have played (in) the Olympics if my dad didn’t want us to play. I played because it was his dream, but after that it became so much bigger. My absolute favorite event is the Olympics. (I’ve won) three other Golds. They’re hidden. I don’t even know where they are.”

The designer most inspirational to her:
“I think one of my favorite designers is probably Mara Hoffman (because) she does ready to wear, swimwear, and she just has beautiful prints.”

On the special diet she follows since being diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome in September 2011:
I was a meat eater, basically a Tyrannosaurus Rex. I love steak (and would eat it) every single day, twice a day. And (then) I would eat my salad second, and then candy galore. I literally had to change that and become a vegan. It’s definitely a huge life change, and I still love the smell of steak. But, I’m not perfect, and I’m making the change. I think it’s for the best.”

CenterStage with Venus Williams premieres Wednesday night at 11 pm after the Yankees Postgame Show on YES, with a special encore presentation on Saturday, June 1 at 10:30 pm following Yankees Extra Innings. comments