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Venus Williams doesn’t exactly recall how she felt about tennis when father Richard Williams introduced her to the sport nearly three decades ago in Compton.

She was too busy trying to hit the bouncing ball to reflect on it.

Watch: Four Women Who Can Rise To No. 1

These days, the 36-year-old Venus says she’s enjoying a love affair with the game.

“I feel like I'm the most joyful now, honestly,” Venus told the media after powering past Lucie Safarova, 6-4, 6-2, into the Indian Wells fourth round. "I've clearly loved the game. You have to to play this long, to deal with the pressure and to put in the amount of work that it takes.

“But I definitely feel like I'm peaking in terms of the love level. I'm enjoying the competition. I like this.”

Williams is winning at love.

Nearly 23 years after her WTA debut in Oakland, Williams is enjoying a renaissance advancing to the Australian Open final and reaching the BNP Paribas Open round of 16 for the first time since 2001.

The four-time Olympic gold medal champion, who has discussed the prospect of playing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, says as long as she loves the game and keeps improving, she will continue to play.

"We're just here because we love it, and we know we have a lot to give, and we have wins in our body that are just aching to get out and that's how I feel," Williams said. "I can hit the ball, and I can hit it well. If anything, I feel like I'm getting better. So as long as I'm improving, I want to be here.

"On the day that I'm not improving and this is a realization, then that's when you know you have to walk away. So not there yet."


 

Venus Rising #BNPPO17 #Venus

A post shared by BNP Paribas Open (@bnpparibasopen) on



The pressure of tournament play does not match the stress Venus feels helping plan younger sister Serena's wedding to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.  

"Oh, my God. Definitely the wedding (is more pressure)," Venus said. "I don't know. I mean, she's really taking it easy. She's definitely a great bride. So I'm proud of her for that.

"I think it's probably easy to get crazy. Nobody's asked me marry him before. I avoided it. But I guess if you find a good one, you've got to figure out how to make it work. So I'm happy that she's found a nice one."

Photo credit: Jared Wickerham/BNP Paribas Open

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