RANKED NO. 31 in the world—23 places behind her younger sister Serena—Venus Williams is years removed from tennis dominance. But if she's no longer on top (as she was for 11 weeks in 2002), she can still crank: Her 128-mph serve at the French Open earlier this month is a record for a woman in a main-draw match. She's especially hard to handle at Wimbledon, where she won singles titles in 2000, '01 and '05—when she came in ranked No. 16. The 26-year-old Venus, in other words, is always a threat.
On playing at Wimbledon
On those courts I can be a bully. My game always comes together there. The first time I won, I was planning on winning. It was like, It was my turn! I was so determined.
On her on-court mind-set
I don't spend hours on the court just to cruise. I'm striving for the win. And I know how to do it.
On taking classes at the Art Institute of Florida
I go for fashion design, and I finish this year. I will be throwing a huge party! A preparty, an after-party and an after-after-party, because I've been in school a long time [since 2000]. I'll have an associate's degree in fashion design.
On being vocal about, and helping to secure, equal pay for women at Wimbledon
I think [making less money than men] was not, for lack of a better word, a good look for women around the world. As the premier sport for women, there had to be a change. We have to set an example, and not just in tennis. We have to be involved with women's rights all over the world.
On playing tennis into her 30s
I'm not ready to give it up.
On losing to Jelena Jankovic in the third round at the French Open
I made 52 errors—and that doesn't help your cause. But I feel I'm playing better every time. I left feeling positive.
On always being linked with Serena
It's awesome. I love being part of a sister act; I love that there are Williamses ruling the courts. We always hang out, and we always e-mail. And even if I'm not with her, I don't feel like I'm far away at all.
On her perfect day without tennis
No tennis in it? That's nice. I would wake up late, watch a movie, then go to the beach with a book and fall asleep. I'd also have candy. All day, all the candy I want. At night I'd go to a concert. My favorite band is 311.
On her interior design company, V Starr Interiors
We're in Jupiter, Florida, but we do projects all over. I love interior design because it's always changing. It's like tennis. Every point's different, every opponent's different, every venue's different.
On being 6' 1"
I like being tall. I've been this height since 14—I don't feel tall, I don't feel short. When you're tall, things look good on you; you can wear anything. I'm like a hanger.
On marriage and kids
Right now I don't understand kids. It doesn't fit into my life. So I can't be birthing. I guess I can understand the value of marriage. If I find the right person, I guess I'd say, "I do." But if you asked me that last year, I would've been like, Are you serious? I don't want to get married. I'm getting a little wiser.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ERIN PATRICE O'BRIEN/CORBIS OUTLINE
BOB MARTIN (WILLIAMS ACTION)