Venus dreams of maiden French Open ti­tle

New Straits Times - - Sport -

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

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