On-form Venus laughs off retirement rumours
Venus Williams played the question back, as straight and to the point as one of her ferocious forehands.
Had she made any decision when she might hang up her racquet?
'I think normally when you're at the top of your game you're not planning the time when you are walking away,' said the 28-year-old.
'You're just planning hopefully the next victory - so that's where I am right now.
'I love my job. I love hitting balls. Running, jumping, chasing after that ball. I love what I do.'
It's been 10 years since Williams first graced Victoria Park and she's back again as one of the stars of this week's JB Group Classic, which starts at Victoria Park tonight.
Some things have changed over time, she says, but some things have stayed the same.
First, there's her skills on the court, which have been rewarded with seven grand slam titles (including five at her favoured Wimbledon) and career earnings touching US$22 million.
'As a player I think I understand the game a lot more,' said Williams. 'I understand how to make better plays, more than anything. I think I always had power and talent and speed but of course understanding comes with time.
'So by the time I really understand the game I'll be hanging the racquet up. So it's unfair I guess in a way.'
And then there's Williams as a person. 'I still haven't matured, I'm still working on it,' she laughed. ' I'm still, you know, pranking and acting silly. I think that maybe you have to have kids before you grow.
'Maybe in the next 10 years I'll come back in and say, 'Yeah, I'm totally an adult.'. So we'll see - I'm still having fun.'
Williams leads Team Americas at the round-robin, four-team event - alongside Argentine Gisela Dulko and fellow American junior star CoCo Vandeweghe - and, coming off a season that included another Wimbledon title and her first season-ending Sony Championship, she said she was happy with where she was at, going into 2009.
'I had a really good off-season. I think this one was the longest one ever,' said Williams. 'I did four weeks with no tennis. I enjoyed it too much. Breaks are a luxury so it was a wonderful luxury. I'm feeling good, no complaints.''
Williams believes she has been able to stay at the top for so long thanks to an ever-evolving training schedule. 'I now do probably as much gym as I do on the court,'' she said.
'When you're younger you just put those hours in for repetition, so you get to the point that you are pro and you don't think, you just do it.
'But those hours aren't necessary now unless you want early retirement. So for the moment half court, half gym.'
And she still has things she wants to prove. The French and Australian grand slam crowns are missing from her mantelpiece. And she's eyeing Jelena Jankovic's position as the top-ranked player in the world.
'The number one ranking is realistic,' she said. 'I worked really hard last year to get what I had to. I feel like I'm in a great position to move forward to number one, but of course I have to do it and that will be the fun part.'
The JB Group Classic - which also features Team Europe, Team Russia and Team Asia Pacific - kicks off with Vera Zvonareva playing Zheng Jie in the opening match, followed by a doubles between Williams and Vandeweghe against Jankovic and Michelle Larcher de Brito, and ending with a singles between Sania Mirza and Anna Chakvetadze.