Although the Bank of the West Classic brings a wide variety of professional women's tennis players to the courts at Stanford University, the top four seed players for the event all had one thing in common: a mindset for the upcoming Rio Olympics.
Johanna Konta, who is representing Great Britain at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games for the first time, is a new face at at the Bank of the West Classic.
“It will be my first Olympics and it's my first time here . . . and it will be my first time playing Montreal so I have a lot of firsts coming up," Konta said.
The tournament is one of many new experiences for Konta, but for Venus Williams these courts feel like home. Williams even brought her four legged companion, Harold, to the venue. Harold took advantage of Williams press conference to wander the room.
Williams acknowledged she wishes she could come to the Bank of the West Classic every year. Compared to Konta, Williams is well acquainted with the tournament and representing her country with a tennis racket in her hand every four years.
“I'm pretty much the most mature on tour," Williams said. “There's not a lot of people older than me but I take that as a compliment. I love being out here and it's proof that you don't have to go until you're good and ready, so when I'm good and ready I'll be gone. Now is not the time."
But familiarity only goes so far when it comes to the Olympics.
“The United States is different than France and you get this whole different vibe and this whole different way of doing things," Williams said. “So definitely in regards to Rio, I've never been. But I've heard a lot of great things about Brazilians and Brazil so I don't know what to expect."
Although Konta is fulfilling her childhood dream of being number one in her sport, she admits that her excitement for the Olympics comes with uncertainty that differs from Williams.
“Everyone who I've spoken to, the first thing they say is ‘It's not like any event on tour, it's not like any other tournaments,' so right now I'm really tense like ‘oh my gosh what to expect, I don't know.' But I'm really looking forward to the athletes village. I'm really looking forward to seeing all the different disciplines. How they train, how they eat, I'm going to be one of those weirdos who stares at everyone," Konta said.
Konta describes her daily routine as “hit, eat and sleep" and plans to focus on her strategies and techniques during her time in Rio. In contrast, Williams hopes to be apart of the closing ceremonies and says that she plans to be among the spectators at another event or two during her time in Rio.
The Olympic Games have the ability to shock and surprise millions of people all over the world, as well as the athletes who compete in them. But regardless of experience or age of the athletes, the best is yet to come according to Konta.