By Kelly Carter, special for USA TODAY
Venus Williams, the two-time defending Wimbledon singles champion and reigning doubles champ, begins her quest for her sixth Wimbledon singles trophy and eighth Grand Slam singles title when the tournament gets underway June 22 at the All England Club. The world’s third-ranked player circles the globe on an annual basis and shares her travel highlights and tips with USA TODAY.
Q: Where have you been recently that you liked or were surprised by?
A: I went to the (Florida) Keys to Little Palm Island. It’s really quiet and there are no TVs so you really have to have your books ready. And you have to be ready to get into the water. It was cool. I did two dives there. I’m now a scuba diver. I had been taking classes but I never got a chance to dive. I’ve never gone on vacation before. Since I travel so much, I really just want to be at home.
Q: What’s the best place you’ve ever visited?
A: The best place is when I go to the Olympics. I went to Sydney, Athens and Beijing. Those are the best times. The whole city is magical. Everybody is happy and really enjoying the city. Olympics transform a city. I don’t have a chance to see much. In Athens I had just one or two days. I went to the Plaka and to see the Acropolis, which for me was probably one of the most impressive things I’ve seen. In Beijing the Bird’s Nest was just awesome. Those two were my most impressive sights – and St. Basil’s church in Moscow.
When I lost early in Moscow I went to Crete (in Greece). It was really cool. There are so many things you can see there like the ruins. I stayed at the Blue Palace and it was fantastic – plus they have tennis courts. Little did they know my dog was staying there too. He’s a Havanese and his name is Harold. He’s so quiet and I took him everywhere I went. I was fighting for him too. They were telling me I couldn’t take him on the airplane. I paid them some money.
Q: What’s the most surprising/unexpected place you’re ever visited?
A: Slovenia. It’s really beautiful. I went to Portoroz. It’s right by the Italian border and really pretty. Every day I took walks. It’s so strange when you go to these places. I’m walking down the street and people are honking their horns. I’m like, “I didn’t think anybody cared about me in this part of the world” but they do. It was pretty funny. I was actually there playing but I only played on the weekends. During the week I went shopping and took walks. There’s not a ton to see there but it’s a nice seaside town that is really pretty and relaxed.
Q: What’s your favorite vacation spot?
A: I like Kauai. I went there after the Keys on a fitness vacation. It was me, my two sisters, Lyndrea and Isha, and my mom. We did yoga in the morning and mat pilates then we went on hikes and went to the beach. We had the chef cook us meals. It was great that my family was there.
Q: Can you offer an insider tip or recommendation for your favorite vacation place?
A: Stay at the Acapulco Princess in Acapulco. I went this year but I was playing. It was really nice and really pretty. You’re so happy every morning when you wake up. I was actually lying in bed and I thought, I need a vacation. And then I realized I’m in Acapulco. Everybody else is vacationing except for me.
In Hawaii I would recommend, if you can, to rent a house. And I would recommend going see the Waimea Canyon.