Title on agenda for busy Williams

Venus Williams has won 10 consecutive matches and will compete for her fourth Key Biscayne title this week in the Sony Ericsson Open.



KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. --- Venus Williams is working on a book and her left-handed serve. She's preparing to play host to the Williams Invitational for family and an NFL offensive tackle. She loves her new role as team owner with a small stake in the Miami Dolphins.

Despite her typically spotty attendance on the WTA Tour, Williams is as busy as ever. And now she's ready for a tournament.

Williams will seek her fourth Key Biscayne title -- but her first since 2001 -- in the Sony Ericsson Open. Play began Tuesday, and Williams' opening match is scheduled for Thursday night against Sorana Cirstea.

"It's nice to play at home," said Williams, who lives 90 minutes up Interstate 95 in Palm Beach Gardens. "There's so much support from the crowd, and so much friends and family look forward to watching me play."

The rooting section will include her sister, five-time champion Serena Williams, who withdrew last week because of the left knee injury that has sidelined her since she won the Australian Open in January.

"I can still swing my racket pretty well in her memory," Venus said.

Not left-handed, though. She has practiced with her off hand in preparation for some private doubles with Serena, at least one other sister, their mother and Minnesota Vikings tackle Bryant McKinnie. He's a friend and tennis novice looking for a match, and the date and location will be determined later.

"It's called the Williams Invitational," Venus said. "I'm playing left-handed so it evens the field. My forehand is pretty mean. My serve is nonexistent, and my backhand is horrible."

Venus lost in the quarterfinals in Australia and has gone 10-0 since, winning titles in Dubai and Acapulco in February.

She struggled with a troublesome left knee last year, when she reached the final eight at only one Grand Slam event. But she said she's healthy and looking forward to a big year at age 29. Ranked fifth, she's the oldest player in the top 40.

"Serena and I have done some great career planning and are playing at the peak of our tennis right now," Venus said. "Tennis has been a sport where you play this insane schedule from 14 years old, and at 26 it's over. We've paced ourselves to play great tennis as long as we want."

The sisters have always found plenty of diversions. They branched out into a new sport last year, buying a small stake in the Dolphins.

Venus' newest role is as an interviewer. For the upcoming book Come to Win , she talked with such people as former President Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and Vera Wang about the role sports played in their lives. The book is due out in June.



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