SINGAPORE: Venus Williams took the ball early and kept her answers short. The 37-year-old, who walked leisurely into the pre-tournament media conference, hands crossed and sporting a gold band on her head, sparked a regal air. She appeared to be on her way to practice, where she' d no doubt reacquaint herself with staying power, long points and more miles on the court.
Not surprisingly, the pace of the court at the Singapore Indoor Stadium was the talking point on the eve of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals . The eight-player field, a mix of big hitters and counter-punchers, weighed into the debate. The American, returning to the season-ending stage eight years after she last made the cut in 2009, will open the show playing the third-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova in a game of heavy artillery. "The court is extremely slow. You'll probably see some long points and some long matches, you know, long points at the end of the year," Venus said.
Pliskova, 25, who has split her two meetings with Venus, will play her first tournament with new coach Aussie Rennae Stubbs . "It's a little bit unusual the surface, we don't have it anywhere on the tour," she said of the Deco Turf-Portable with a wooden base that can eat into the pace of play. "I feel like I've played on the surface a lot of hours last year, I want to take advantage of that."
Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza , who heads the White Group filled with heavy strikers, plays the youngest player in the field - Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko - in the night match on Sunday. The elegant 24-year-old won't get any help from the surface and fortunately for her, neither will her fearless opponent.