Bradley Cooper developed a new skill Saturday when the actor-turned-director interviewed tennis legends Serena and Venus Williams for the A+E Networks and the History Channel’s History Talks in Washington D.C.
At the top of the conversation, he talked about Serena’s recent announcement that she was retiring from tennis. She played her last game at the US Open in New York City last month.
“I just had to stop,” Serena recalled. “I’ve always said I wanted to quit if I play really good tennis and win and beat good players. For me it’s really about things I want to do spiritually and spend time with my daughter and family.”
She continued, “As a super-handy mom, I can’t tell you how hard it was. I lost so many games after I had Olympia” – in 2017 – “because it was so hard to be on the pitch. I feel like I’ve given so much of my life to tennis, my whole life, that it’s time to do something different for me and work on other things too.”
But don’t worry, tennis lovers: there is a chance that Serena will pick up a racket again. She said she had given herself permission to return to court. “I feel like if I want to come back, I can definitely come back,” she said.
For the Williams sisters, the statistics are unmistakable. Collectively, they have won dozens of Grand Slam tournaments, several Olympic gold medals, and each ranked No. 1 in the world as singles and doubles. Cooper asked Venus and Serena what it’s like to know they’ve changed the game of tennis.
“For me, I want to do more,” said Venus. “You want to get better every moment. It’s never enough. If it was perfect, it still wasn’t perfect enough.”
Serena danced around the question, adding, “If you’re inside, you can’t see it. It’s very different when you’re involved.”
They also spoke about the challenges of preserving private life in the public sphere. Cooper, who says he was thankful he didn’t become famous until his mid-30s, admitted there were days when he didn’t leave his Manhattan apartment.
“Me too!” said Serena.
Venus tilted her head: “What are you doing there…”
“I watch a lot of TV,” Cooper claimed.
Serena believes that “there is a fine line” between staying in and going out. “Some days I’m like, ‘When was the last time I went outside?’ So that’s normal,” she said, reassuring Cooper.
“I’ll take my daughter to school,” he interrupted.
Serena continued: “It gets me there enough so it’s not too much of an event. Recently I wanted to get something to eat and ended up staying at home. I don’t want to overdo that. it’s important to get out just enough.”
For Venus, there is less strategic thinking about public appearances. “When I go out, I don’t think people think of me. I do my own thing.”