SINGAPORE - For Venus Williams - win or lose - it's all about giving your best effort, both on and off the tennis court.
That was one of the many pieces of wisdom the former world No. 1 passed on to a group of outgoing kids in attendance at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global as a part of SportCares, the tournament's official social cause.
"I want to know that I've earned it and know that I've given 100%," said Williams, in Singapore as a singles alternate for the WTA Finals. "I expect a lot from myself, but it's also a balance. You have to be honest with yourself, tell yourself when you're doing well and when you can do better."
Williams was honest with the group, which numbered about 25 kids, age six to 18, who are volunteers with SportCares, an initiative to introduce sport to children who live away from their parents and are considered at-risk. They had a range of questions for the American, from her career in tennis to her favorite sport, favorite food and how she keeps her vegan diet.
"I'm a 'chegan,'" she joked, referring to herself as a cheating vegan. "I think that if you feel good eating whatever way you want, you should have a balanced diet. As long as you eat healthy, that's OK."
Williams was all smiles the kids enjoyed the precious interaction that they had with one of the world's best tennis players while dressed in WTA Future Stars t-shirts.
"Life is a challenge," said Williams, who won her 47th WTA singles title in Wuhan just a few weeks ago. "That is the best part because challenges are fun. It's about loving something and doing it well."
Williams will leave Singapore over the weekend to head to Zhuhai, China, where she will play in the inaugural at Huajin Securities WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai.
"My role models were always my sisters," Williams said of who she looked up to when she was the kids' age. "I have a lot of support from my family. When I've been down, they have always been there for me."
"Things aren't always going to go the way that you want to," Williams, 35, said of facing challenges. "A lot of times it's not going to happen your way, but life is about dealing with that. I learn so much from my losses; they always make me better. Are you going to get up and keep going? Or are you going to let things take you down? The positive is always better."
At the end of the question-and-answer session, Williams stayed behind to sign autographs and take photos with the lucky participants who were hopefully inspired to pick up a racquet and in future reap the benefits that the sport of tennis can bring them.
Tickets to the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global start at S$16.90 and can be purchased through Sports Hub Tix www.sportshub.com.sg/WTAFinals, the official ticketing partner of the 2015 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. Tickets to Singapore Tennis Evening at Marina Bay Sands - The Show featuring Paloma Faith are available at www.apactix.com and www.sistic.com.sg
Log on to the WTA Finals website www.WTAFinals.com for more information and follow on Twitter and Instagram (@WTAFinalsSG) and Facebook (facebook.com/WTAFinalsSG).
--Here are a few more of Venus' answers on Thursday for the group of at-risk youth:
Favorite food: "My favorite food is watermelon. When I'm here, I have to eat watermelon two or three times a day."
Favorite sport… other than tennis: "You don't want to see me play basketball… and soccer is even worse. I love volleyball and I love table tennis. I love other sports; I may not be good at them all the time, but I love them. My favorite thing to do is go running in a new place."
How does Venus stay 'goofy?' "I love singing and dancing. A lot of karaoke! I was actually dancing when my intro was being read."
Toughest opponent: "Definitely Serena. But sometimes, myself, too. Sometimes you aren't at your best."
When facing self-doubt, how does she overcome it? "Self-doubt is real. Everyone has it. It can happen on the court at any time. It's about understanding that being nervous or lacking confidence is human. It's OK to feel that way. It's about how you deal with it."