Venus Williams Prepares to Defend Her Wimbledon Crown

06/23/2008 at 10:30 AM EDT

Venus Williams Prepares to Defend Her Wimbledon Crown
Venus won Wimbledon in 2007
Anja Niedringhaus/AP
Tennis goes green for the next two weeks as Wimbledon starts on the lawn courts of London – and Venus Williams hopes she'll be able to claim her fifth women's title.

In fact, she says, last year's win gives her a slight mental edge.

"The advantage is that you won last year and it will never be taken away from you," Williams told reporters before the tournament began Monday. "It will always be yours, and you can hug the plate at night if it gets cold." (Venus's younger sister Serena has won the title twice. Together, they've also claimed the doubles title twice.)

Her first round match is Tuesday (at 6 p.m. Eastern time). Andy Roddick is the highest seeded U.S. men's player – ranked sixth, behind favorites Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Tradition First

As always, the tradition-obsessed bosses at England's premier tennis event plan to enforce a strict on-court dress code requiring players to wear predominantly white clothing. Still, some players have admitted that they plan to push the envelope when it comes to fashion.

"[I'm] changing it up this year," former Wimbledon champ Maria Sharapova said on Sunday. "I'm going with shorts, believe it or not ... Call it menswear, obviously. It's kind of like a tuxedo look, very simple lines, classic."

Asked about Sharapova's break with tradition, Williams – who has her own clothing line – confessed she would play it safe on the grass. "[I'll wear] all white. Nothing special," she said. "I'm not thinking that much about my outfit, to be honest. I'm just all about the yellow ball."

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