Venus dreams of maiden French Open title
MAKING a record 20th appearance at Roland Garros, Venus Williams is looking to finally get her hands on the French Open trophy.
Venus has played in the French Open more than any other woman, but has only gotten past the quarterfinals once — when she lost the 2002 final to younger sister Serena.
“Is it 20 already? I thought I missed a few, but apparently not,” Venus said with a smile. “Here we are. You know, what an experience. What can I say?
“It’s always an opportunity, for sure. You know, I want to play the kind of tennis that’s consistent and aggressive, inspired. That’s my goal, really, every match.”
Venus turns 37 next month, but is showing no signs of slowing down. The American reached her 15th Grand Slam final in January — nearly eight years after her 14th. She lost the Australian Open to Serena.
Venus attributes her longevity partly to the breaks she has taken during her 23-year career.
“Definitely, I think spacing out how long, how many tournaments I have played, I believe that’s helped me,” Venus said. “It’s not easy emotionally or mentally or physically to do this job, so I think that helps. I haven’t had any other experience.
“So would I recommend it? For sure, but I think if you’re happy playing a lot of tournaments and you can handle that, then it’s not a problem. But if you’re not, then you have to space it out.”
Venus will play Kurumi Nara of Japan in the second round at Roland Garros after surviving a scare to beat Qiang Wang in straight sets on Sunday.
Clay is Venus’ least favourite surface, but with several of the top stars out or struggling, this could be her year.
Serena is not playing because she is pregnant, while Maria Sharapova’s ranking wasn’t high enough to gain direct entry into the tournament after a 15-month doping suspension. Tournament organisers did not grant her a wild card.
World No. 1 Angelique Kerber lost her first-round match 6-2, 62 against 40th-ranked Ekaterina Makarova, while third-seeded Simona Halep is struggling with a right ankle injury.
“All I can speak of are the players that I play against, and they play amazing every time. That’s the competition I face,” Venus said. “What other players are doing, I have got to be honest, I don’t watch so closely. I just try to understand what can I accomplish. And then after that, I go home.” AP