Venus Williams made her US Open debut in 1997, and she's reflecting on that fortuitous tournament 20 years later as she prepares to play in the 2017 US Open as the No. 9 seed.
The seven-time grand slam winner will play her first round match on Monday and, during a recent phone call with AOL Entertainment, she told us that stepping out onto the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium this year will give her the same feeling she had 20 years ago.
"I played my first match ever at the US Open at Arthur Ashe Stadium, and I remember being so nervous losing the first set and then finally settling in and thinking, 'Okay, I think I can win this match,'" she recalled with a laugh. "That tournament I made it all the way to the final. It does take some getting used to, but once you put your head down and focus, you're able to play well and enjoy it."
So, more than two decades into her legendary tennis career, Williams is still going. More than that, she's still winning -- a lot. The star has surpassed all expectations this year by reaching two grand slam finals: In January, she lost to sister Serena in a historic Australian Open final, and last month she lost to Garbine Muguruza in the Wimbledon championship.
Though she's been playing so well, she admits that she's not quite there -- she wants to go all the way again! -- and Williams is confident that she'll get there.
See photos of Venus Williams through the years:
Venus Williams through her career
Venus Williams through her career
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 02: Venus Williams of the U.S. returns the ball to Kristina Mladenovic of France during the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy-2017 tennis tournament match on February 2, 2017 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Il'ja Smirnov/Kommersant via Getty Images)
Tennis prodigy Venus Williams, 14 , of Pompano Beach, Florida, waits to take the court in Oakland, October 27. She will make her professional debut at the WTA Tour tournament in Oakland, on October 31, taking advantage of a soon-to-be defunct rule that admits 14-year-olds to the pro ranks
Venus Williams of the United States backhands a second set volley with Martina Hingis of Switzerland on March 23 during the third round of the Lipton Championships. Williams lost to Hingis in straight sets 6-4 6-2. SPORT TENNIS
Venus Williams (L) of the United States and sister Serena Williams laugh as they celebrate their doubles win at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows September 12, 1999. The Williams sisters defeated Sandrine Testud of France and Chandra Rubin of the United States 4-6 6-1 6-4 to win the title. PJ
Venus Williams of the USA smiles after winning her match against Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand at the French Open at Roland Garros stadium June 1st. Venus Williams won 6-2 6-2. JCK/WS
Venus Williams of the US is all smiles as she poses for photographers with the trophy after defeating [Lindsay Davenport] in the final, July 8. Williams won the match 6-3 7-6 to take the title.
Venus Williams of the United States returns to Nathalie Tauziat of France during their match at the U.S. Open in New York September 5, 2000. PJ/SV
U.S. second world ranking tennis player Venus Williams flashes a smile as she holds up the trophy after winning the final against her compatriot Meghann Shaughnessy at the "Betty Barclay Cup 2001" in Hamburg May 6, 2001. Williams won in straight sets 6-3 6-0. CHA/CRB
Venus Williams of the U.S.A. reacts after winning her third round match against Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova at the Australian Open in Melbourne January 18, 2002. Williams won in three sets 3-6 6-0 6-4. REUTERS/Mark Baker MDB/RCS
Venus Williams of the U.S. serves during her match against Russia's
Elena Bovina during the Trilogy Tennis Tournament, The Collins Cup, at
the Royal Dublin Stadium in Ireland December 7, 2002. REUTERS/Paul
Tennis star Venus Williams applauds Reebok Human Rights Award winner [Christian Mukosa, a lawyer and human rights monitor in the Kivu provinces of the Congo], as she waits to present him his award during ceremonies in Boston, April 10, 2003. The awards are given annually to young human rights activists under the age of thirty from all over the world.
Venus Williams of the U.S. returns to Belgium's Kim Clijsters in their
women's singles semi-final match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships
in London, July 3, 2003. Williams won the match 4-6 6-3 6-1.
REUTERS/Ian Hodgson REUTERS
Venus Williams (R) shows pictures to Billie Jean King (L) during the Federations Cup match in Portoroz, April 25, 2004. REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic SZ
U.S tennis players Serena (L) and Venus Williams smile during a children's tennis practice session on court at Wimbledon in south west london, June 17, 2004. The Wimbledon championships begin on June 21.
Venus Williams celebrates after winning her quarterfinal match against Serena Williams at the Nasdaq 100 Open. Venus Williams celebrates after winning her quarterfinal match against her sister Serena Williams at the Nasdaq-100 Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, March 29, 2005. Venus won the match 6-1 7-6 (8-6.) The Williams sisters have meet 14 times, Serena has won five of the last six and leads the series 7-6. REUTERS/Jason Arnold
Venus Williams of the U.S reacts during her match against [Bulgaria's Sesil Karatantcheva] in the third round of the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros May 27, 2005. [Karatantcheva won 6-3 1-6 6-1.]
Venus Williams arrives during a ceremony to honor Billie Jean King at the U.S. Open in New York, August 28, 2006. The tennis center was renamed the Billie Jean King USTA Tennis Center. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES)
Venus Williams of the U.S. returns a shot to Maria Kirilenko of Russia during women's single final at the Korea Open tennis tournament in Seoul September 30, 2007. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak (SOUTH KOREA)
Venus Williams of the U.S. returns the ball to Elena Dementieva of Russia during their quarter-final match at the WTA Dubai Tennis Championships February 19, 2009. REUTERS/Jumana El Heloueh (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
Venus Williams of the U.S. returns the ball to Samantha Stosur of Australia during their Madrid Open tennis quarter-final match May 14, 2010. REUTERS/Susana Vera (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)
U.S. tennis player Venus Williams smiles during a news conference at the Sports Congress and Exhibition at Aspire Dome in Doha November 13, 2011. Williams said Sunday she has changed her diet following the autoimmune disease that kept her out of this year's U.S. Open and is hoping the new approach will propel her back to the top of the women's tennis rankings. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad (QATAR - Tags: SPORT TENNIS SOCIETY)
Serena Williams (L) and her sister Venus Williams, of the U.S., pose with their gold medals during the presentation ceremony for the women's doubles tennis at the All England Lawn Tennis Club during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 5, 2012. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT TENNIS)
Venus Williams of the U.S. hits a return shot to Maria Kirilenko of Russia during their first round match in the 2012 Cincinnati Open tennis tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio, August 14, 2012. REUTERS/John Sommers II (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)
Venus Williams of the U.S. reacts after winning the match point during a women's singles match against Simona Halep of Romania at the Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament in Tokyo September 25, 2013. REUTERS/Yuya Shino (JAPAN - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)
Venus Williams of the U.S. holds the trophy after defeating Alize Cornet of France in their women's singles final match at the WTA Dubai Tennis Championships, February 22, 2014.REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)
Venus Williams of the U.S. smiles after defeating Anett Kontaveit of Estonia during their fourth round match at the U.S. Open Championships tennis tournament in New York, September 6, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 29: Venus Williams attends the Ocean Drive Magazine and Roche Bobois celebrate the December Issue with Heidi Klum on November 29, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Sergi Alexander/Getty Images)
Venus Williams of the US celebrates her victory against Coco Vandeweghe of the US during their women's singles semi-final match on day 11 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 26, 2017. / AFP / PETER PARKS / IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE (Photo credit should read PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 26: Ternnis star Venus Williams on the court during the 22nd Annual Arthur Ashe Kids' Day at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 26, 2017 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 24: Tennis player Venus Williams plays badminton during the 2017 Lotte New York Palace Invitational at Lotte New York Palace on August 24, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 24: Professional tennis player Venus Williams attends the 2017 Lotte New York Palace Invitational at Lotte New York Palace on August 24, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for LOTTE New York Palace)
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 16: Venus Williams of the United States hits a forehand during a match in the Western & Southern Open on August 16, 2017 at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Cincinnati, OH. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 7: Venus Williams of the United States prepares to return a serve against Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania during Day 3 of the Rogers Cup at Aviva Centre on August 7, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 24: Tennis player Venus Williams attends the 2017 Mylan World TeamTennis Washington Kastles vs Philadelphia Freedoms match at Michael J. Hagan Arena at St. Joseph's University on July 24, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 15: Venus Williams of The United States in action against Garbine Muguruza of Spain in the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club at Wimbledon on July 15, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
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"It's a highlight to be able to go from being on the court and have your dreams and your goals and what you're looking toward and have those happen," she explained about what's made her year so great. "That whole process is exciting, because you realize you can get even better. I feel like my best is still ahead of me."
"I think it's really about the mindset," Williams said about continuing to improve her results. "It's about being confident and relaxed in the situation at hand. It's about remembering how to make the play and remembering to put the ball in the court."
"I often forget to do that," she added with a laugh.
Of course, if she's to pass that one last hurdle at a grand slam this year, she'll have to do it without sister Serena there in person, as she's expected to give birth to her first baby within the next month. Even though she won't physically be in New York cheering her on, Venus insists that Serena is still with her in spirit.
"She's always there with me, and I always get great advice from her," she told us. "Of course I'm going to miss her a lot, but I will have to just wave that Williams flag high."
Another thing that Venus looks forward to every year at the Open is interacting with the thousands of fans that roam the grounds at the Billie Jean Tennis Center every year, eager for autographs and selfies and face-time with the top players. This year, she'll appear at a meet-and-greet the Card Member Club, which she helped design with her interior design business V Starr Interiors.
The space, which is located inside of the American Express Fan Experience, will highlight both V Starr Interiors and Williams' other business -- highly successful clothing company, Eleven. The collaboration was a natural one.
"It shows there are different sides of me," Williams explained of her American Express partnership. "So many people are growing their businesses and realizing their dreams with American Express, and I'm doing the exact same thing."
"I got my first [American Express] card when I was 15," she continued. "[This space] shows my passion for interior design and highlights small business in terms of my clothing line, as well as V Starr Interiors."
Though she'll spend some time off of the court interacting with fans at the US Open this year, Williams will still remain focused on the task at hand: Winning her third title at the final grand slam of the year. And, after a long season, that may involve winning ugly.
"It's a long season, so at this point you hopefully feel pretty honed on your game," she said. "It's about being able to perfect your ability to deal with the pressure of the last slam. That's obviously on my mind right now as I figure out how to bring my best tennis, even if it's not my best day."
See more photos of the Williams Sisters:
Venus and Serena Williams through the years
Venus and Serena Williams through the years
Venus Williams (L) and her sister Serena of the U.S. celebrate their victory in the doubles finals against Mariaan de Swardt of South Africa and Elena Tatarkova of the Ukraine at the European indoor championships in Kloten October 18. The Williams sisters won 5-7 6-1 6-3.
Serena Williams (back) goes after a second set shot from her sister Venus Williams March 28 in the final match at the Lipton Championships. Venus defeated Serena 6-1 4-6 6-4 to take the title.
Serena Williams from the United States (R) holds the Grand Slam Cup trophy after the final match against her sister Venus at the Grand Slam Cup in Munich, October 3. Serena won the match 6-1 3-6 6-4.
USA'S Serena Williams (L) and sister Venus practice for the Olympic Games in Sydney, September 21, 2000. The Williams sisters are competing for the United States in the Games of the XXVII Olympiad.
Venus Williams (R) embraces her sister Serena Williams after she won the women's final at the U.S. Open Tennis Championship in New York September 8, 2001. Venus Williams won 6-2 6-4 in a sixty-nine minute match, repeating her final's win from last year. Tonight's final is the first Grand Slam final contested by sisters since Maud Watson beat Lilian Watson 117 years ago in the first Wimbledon women's final in 1884. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn
Venus (R) and Serena Williams of the U.S. confer during their women's doubles match [against Slovenia's Tina Krizan and Katarina Srebotnik] at the Wimbledon tennis championships, July 5, 2002. The Williams sisters won 6-2 6-0.
Serena Williams of the United States returns to her sister [Venus] during the women's final at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, New York, September 7, 2002.
Serena Williams of the United States (L) is greeted at the net by her
sister Venus following the women's final at the U.S. Open in Flushing,
New York, September 7, 2002. Serena won the match 6-4 6-3 to capture
the U.S. Open title. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine
Venus (R) and Serena Williams (L) of the U.S. play third round women's
doubles against Russia's Elena Dementieva and Lina Krasnoroutskaya at
the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 1, 2003.
U.S tennis players Serena (L) and Venus Williams smile during a children's tennis practice session on court at Wimbledon in south west london, June 17, 2004. The Wimbledon championships begin on June 21. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty KD/AA
Serena Williams reacts after a missed point against sister [Venus] in their fourth round match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Flushing Meadows, New York, September 4, 2005. [Venus] defeated Serena 7-6 6-2.
Venus Williams of the U.S hits a return to sister Serena Williams during their fourth round match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Flushing Meadows, New York, September 4, 2005. REUTERS/Mike Segar JA/mk
Serena (L) and Venus Williams of the U.S. reach for the ball during their semi-finals doubles match against Nathalie Dechy of France and Casey Dellacqua of Australia at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London July 4, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN)
Gold medallists Serena (R) and Venus Williams of the U.S. celebrate on the podium after the women's doubles tennis competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 17, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville (CHINA)
Serena Williams (L) of the U.S. and her sister Venus talk, after winning their women's doubles final match against Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova and Japan's Ai Sugiyama, at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 30, 2009. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic (AUSTRALIA)
Serena Williams of the U.S. serves the ball to sister and compatriot Venus Williams during their semi-final match at the WTA Dubai Tennis Championships February 20, 2009. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
Venus Williams of the U.S. serves the ball to sister and compatriot Serena Williams during their semi-final match at the WTA Dubai Tennis Championships February 20, 2009. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
Venus Williams of the U.S. (L) and Serena Williams of the U.S. pose for a photograph before their Ladies' Singles finals match at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, July 4, 2009. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh (BRITAIN SPORT TENNIS)
Serena Williams (L) of the U.S. grimaces after being hit by a serve from her sister Venus during their doubles match against Julia Goerges of Germany and Arantxa Parra Santonja of Spain at the U.S. Open tennis championships in New York September 3, 2009. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES SPORT TENNIS)
Sisters Serena Williams (R) and Venus Williams of the U.S. celebrate after defeating Czech Republic's Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in the women's doubles tennis gold medal match at the All England Lawn Tennis Club during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 5, 2012. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT TENNIS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
U.S tennis players Serena Williams (L) and Venus Williams look on during a news conference in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos October 31, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye (NIGERIA - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)
Venus Williams (top) serves as she and her sister Serena of the U.S. play doubles against compatriots Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears at the U.S. Open tennis championships in New York August 31, 2013. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)
Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 6/7/15
Women's Singles - USA's Serena Williams and USA's Venus Williams embrace after their fourth round match
Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge
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Serena Williams of the U.S. follows the flight of the ball as she falls on a return shot to her sister and compatriot Venus Williams during their quarterfinals match at the U.S. Open Championships tennis tournament in New York, September 8, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 9/7/16 USA's Serena Williams and Venus Williams celebrate winning their womens doubles final against Hungary's Timea Babos and Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova with the trophies REUTERS/Tony O'Brien