US Open 2017 - Good times keep rolling for venerable Venus
Though the wrong side of 37, Venus Williams has continued her remarkable renaissance at the US Open, where she faces Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.
Venus Williams has made nonchalant progress to the quarter-finals of the US Open, where Petra Kvitova, the only other Grand Slam winner still standing in the women’s draw, awaits her. The 37-year-old American’s exploits at Flushing Meadows are just the last chapter in what has been an amazing 2017 for her. Despite the passing years, injury, grief and the Sjögren syndrome she suffers from, the elder of the two Williams sisters has shown remarkable resilience in battling her way back to the top.
In the running for the world No1 slot until a few days ago, the seven-time Grand Slam champion has already contested the Australian Open and Wimbledon finals this year, a fact that has not been lost on her opponents. A US Open winner in 2000 and 2001, she is a genuine contender to win the title a whole 20 years after making her very first Grand Slam final appearance in New York. To put that longevity into perspective, Venus has now been around at the US Open for as long as the Arthur-Ashe Stadium, a double anniversary that she is only too well aware of.
"I don’t focus on past success. I just look to the future"
“Something just went click in 1997,” said Williams, recalling her US Open career. “I learned how to win these matches. It was huge for me. But at the same time, I didn’t think about things too much back then. I just went for it every time. I never looked back after that.” Williams has never been the nostalgic type. Asked if things were better back then, when she was a newcomer to the tour, she said it was different, fun and enjoyable, but not necessarily “better”. The past is the past. We learn from it but we move on: that is the message that Williams has been getting across since the fortnight started.
As well as revealing that sister Serena, who gave birth to a baby daughter on 1 September, is missing New York a lot, Venus added: “Success breeds success. If you win, you learn to win and suddenly you start winning even more. But I’m someone who just lives in the future. I don’t get nervous or tense because I’ve got points to defend or because I won a tournament the year before. I don’t care about the year before. I’m more like: ‘Am I going to win today?’ I focus on the next result. I don’t focus on past success. I just look to the future.”
Her immediate future involves a night-time quarter-final on Tuesday against Petra Kvitova, the Czech left-hander who has come an awful long way since suffering a knife attack last December. “What she’s gone through is unimaginable, unreasonable,” Williams said. “The world we live in is just shocking. So for her, I think to be playing well is such a blessing. To be able to come out here and do what she needs to do, to clear her head, it’s such a beautiful thing to see.” That will not stop Williams from trying with all her might to bring Kvitova’s run to an abrupt end. After all, as she focuses on the here and now, Auntie Vee still has big dreams to fulfil, among them a third US Open title.
When Venus takes the picture...