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Venus Williams

Attends Ric Macci's Academy

Although she was temporarily out of tennis competition, Venus continued to work on her game. Her father enrolled Venus and Serena in Ric Macci's tennis academy. Venus continued to be schooled at home and spent about six hours a day, six days a week practicing tennis. Even though she had officially withdrawn from competition, sports-related manufacturers still expressed an interest in signing her to product endorsement deals if she decided to turn pro. In October 1994, at the age of 14, Venus made her professional debut at the Bank of the West Classic in Oakland, California. The unranked teen handily defeated Shaun Stafford, a player ranked number 59 in the world. She went on to play the world's secondranked woman player, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, giving the Spaniard a good game before losing. In an interview with Robin Finn of the New York Times, Stafford said of Venus: "She's going to be great for women's tennis." In joining the pro tour before the end of 1994, Williams dodged a new rule of the Women's Tennis Council of the World Tennis Association that, beginning in 1995, would bar women under the age of 18 from competition.

Because Venus entered into professional competition before the new rules took effect, she maintained a limited schedule at first, continuing her schooling at home. She next took to the courts professionally in August 1995, 10 months after her debut. On this outing she didn't fare nearly as well as she had in her debut, losing in the first round. Her loss prompted some tennis analysts to suggest that Venus's game lacked the competitive edge she might have developed had she continued to compete in junior tournaments. To rectify this and energize his daughter's game, Richard Williams sometimes cheered for her opponent in public matches. "Every time she loses, I pay her $50," Williams told Pat Jordan, a writer for New York Times Magazine. Like a lot of other "tennis dads," men who took an active role in their daughters' careers on the court, Richard Williams came in for a fair share of negative publicity. But giving Williams his due, New York Times writer Finn concluded that Venus's father and coach Macci together had "produced a player who appears to possess wit and wisdom beyond her years—with a serve, volley, and vocabulary to match."

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Famous Sports StarsTennisVenus Williams Biography - Compton Childhood, Attends Ric Macci's Academy, Makes Her Debut At French Open, Turns Tables On Hingis - CONTACT INFORMATION