When Venus Williams packs her tour bag before she leaves home everything looks great. It all has its place. But by the time she heads for her return trip Venus calls her bag a “disaster.”
But what does she carry in her giant red Wilson Tour V 15 tennis bag that makes it onto the court? Well, “anything and everything,” she says.
“Anything you might want is in there,” she continues. “You are going to want some weird stuff randomly. In any case, there are certain things you need all the time and have to have in the bag.”
Of course, it all starts with the racquets. Venus brings a minimum of eight Wilson Blade 104 racquets onto the court with her—“I carry a lot, I’ve got to have my backup plans”—even if she isn’t prone to switching rackets during matches as other players regularly do. Venus lets her coach choose the tension, but she admits that most of the time she doesn’t even know which racquet she has snatched of the eight. “I’ve started to get a little superstitious about my racquet, not changing it,” she says. “I stick with one.”
But beyond the obvious, Venus packs in all sorts of tiny things she may need in her hotel or on the court. Exercise bands. Eyeliner. A mirror in case something gets in her eye on the court. Electrolyte powder. Nail polisher remover because, you know, sometimes you just need to fix a nail before walking off the court. She has some extra string and grip, but generally lets her coach handle the tennis-specific requirements.
“Anything that I might need is in the bag,” she says. She keeps scissors to cut her hair—something she does herself and only every three months, but usually when on tour—even if she keeps that event confined to the hotel and not on the court.
She has a manicure/pedicure set (“really important”). Band-Aids. Tape remover pads. Iodine in case she needs to soak a sore. Visors. Lots of visors, although that is one item that does end up with more versions in the hotel room and usually about four in the bag for a match.
Last season Venus started carrying a second bag because her clothing line EleVen came out with a new bag. “I am a girl; I love a bag,” she says. “I had a chance to carry another bag.”
The only thing that goes in that one, though, is a change of clothes. And that only happens when she plays on a court that isn’t directly connected to the lockeroom. For example, when she plays on Arthur Ashe Stadium at the U.S. Open, there’s no need for her to bring a change of clothes onto the court.
When it comes to filling her on-court bag, Venus has it all. “I am always subtracting,” she says, “but it gets heavy.” Iodine will do that.
Tim Newcomb covers sneakers for Tennis Magazine and tennis.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.