It was a great experience for me to share the same field for two hours with Venus Williams, one of the best players in history and even more to be un the presence of Richard Williams (the father and coach of both sisters).
In this training I learned a lot, but I would like to highlight some of the most important aspects: We started with mini-tennis for about two minutes where I was surprised by the anticipation of all her preparations, my ball had just come off the strings and she was already with the racquet ready to hit the ball forward, it didn’t matter what the stroke was, she continued this initial preparation continued all the time regardless of the exercise or the speed with which we played.
Then we went deep where we played for 15 minutes at 50% ball speed, which was the second thing that surprised me, the accuracy and depth she was playing at that speed. After the first water break we started with cross strokes and then she quickly asked me to move from side to side, her goal was to play with depth regardless of the speed of the ball, sometimes she would accelerate more and other times, she would look for angles when it would have been best whereas others would only look for depth, making it difficult to change direction.
The third thing I learned and perhaps most important was that after every good dribble, Venus looked down at the ground, did a little 3-4 second mental routine and when I looked up I could see she was ready for another fight, it was like she sent me a message full of positive energy with her eyes and her body language, this was done throughout the workout, the same mental routine every time we dribbled, tried the game on the fly or played points, regardless of what happened in the previous point or in the previous exchange.
After the second break, we worked on the return points for about 40 minutes, she constantly tried to be aggressive and take the initiative from the first shot and standing inside the court trying to catch the ball early.
My fourth learning was really important: no importance was given to the score, there was not even a specific order for the points, three points on the deuce side, so two points on the lead, one on each side and so on, this made it clear that she was never thinking about the score but the point that comes, play for what it's really worth, "ONE POINT", all are worth the same, the first, second and last, in all attempts she tried to do the same.
Fifth learning, although Venus was looking forward to drinking water (she was feeling very hot), she never stopped until Richard (father and coach) gave her the okay after an incredible backhand in response. A few serves and the almost two-hour training ended, in which we hardly exchanged any conversations except for the exercises, once the training was completed we chatted for a few minutes while we were stretching.
I understood the focus that she had throughout the training and that there are moments of relaxation and others to train while being mentally focused, the secret is not to mix them. Brian Dabul