Venus still rising
Originally published on 05/07/16 00:00
There are so many statistics relating to the five-time Wimbledon winner’s passage through the draw at this year’s Championships that it is difficult to know which ones best reflect the former 36-year-old’s latest achievement. What is easy to see is how genuinely happy the seven-time Grand Slam champion is about her success here.
“Semi-finals feels good,” said the former world No.1. “But it doesn't feel foreign at all.”
“I don't have any regrets about anything that's taken place in between,” added Williams, who was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome in 2011. “It's been a journey, but it's made me stronger."
It has not been an easy journey to the final four, either. In her first round match she outlasted Donna Vekic, 17 years her junior, in two tight sets before being take to three sets by Greek qualifier Maria Sakkari and 19-year-old Daria Kasatkina. The third set of that match, which she won 10-8, was the longest final set of her career in terms of number of games played.
After a tight first set that went to a tiebreak Williams saw off Carla Suarez Navarro in the fourth round before defeating the unseeded Yaroslava Shvedova in the quarter-finals. Her semi-final opponent, Angelique Kerber will be stern opposition. Since she won the Australian Open earlier this year she has been gaining confidence. The pair have played five times, and while Venus won their last meeting in Montreal in 2014, Kerber won their only meeting on grass at the 2012 Olympics in two tiebreak sets.
It is seven years since Williams was last in the semi-finals at Wimbledon. Back in 2009 she beat Dinara Safina in the semi-finals before losing to sister Serena Williams in the final. She reached the quarter-finals at SW19 the following year before her run to the last four in New York – the last time she was in a Grand Slam semi-final.
“Six years ago is ages ago,” she said laughing, “I think I was most likely kicking butt six years ago if I was in the semis or the finals. You have to be.”
Tuesday was a throwback to past times too as younger sister Serena also made her way to the semi-finals. Between them the pair have won 11 singles titles at Wimbledon.
Making her 19th appearance at Wimbledon and her 71st major, Venus Williams is not interested in making up the numbers; she still wants to write them.
“I want to keep going. I don't just want to be in the top 10 or the top 8,” she said. “I'd like to continue and I'd like to win majors.”
So while the commentators trawl over the stats, and chew over whether the 36-year-old has another major in her, Venus’s view remains calm about her success and focused on the job in hand
“The first time you win, nobody picks you; the last time you win nobody picks you. You’ve just got to pick yourself.”
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