Wim­ble­don cen­ter of Venus’ legacy

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS -

LON­DON — Even at 37 and with five Wim­ble­don ti­tles to her name, Venus Wil­liams still has an over­whelm­ing de­sire to win.

And she’s show­ing it again this year at the All Eng­land Club, where she will face Gar­bine Mugu­ruza to­day in her ninth Wim­ble­don fi­nal.

“I’m def­i­nitely in the po­si­tion I want to be in,” Wil­liams said. “It’s a long two weeks. Now, knock­ing on the door for a ti­tle. This is where I want to be.”

Wil­liams has quite a his­tory at the grass-court ma­jor,

win­ning her first Grand Slam ti­tle in Lon­don in 2000. The last of her seven ma­jors came at the same place in 2008.

Shortly af­ter that, in 2011, Wil­liams an­nounced she had Sjo­gren’s dis­ease, an en­ergy-sap­ping ill­ness that also can cause joint pain. She missed some big tour­na­ments and made sev­eral early ex­its at the ma­jors.

But she has bounced back, play­ing some of her best ten­nis over the past 12 months. She reached the Wim­ble­don semi­fi­nals last year, and the Aus­tralian Open fi­nal this year.

To­day, she’ll be play­ing for the Venus Rose­wa­ter Dish for the ninth time in her 20th Wim­ble­don ap­pear­ance.

“There’s still a lot to be done. I have one more match that I’d like to be the win­ner of,” Wil­liams said. “I have to go out there and take it and play well.”

The per­son on the other side of the net also has ex­pe­ri­ence play­ing in the last week­end on Cen­tre Court. The 23-year-old Mugu­ruza played for the ti­tle in 2015, los­ing to Venus’ lit­tle sis­ter, Ser­ena Wil­liams.”

Mugu­ruza did beat Ser­ena to win the French Open ti­tle in 2016. And she’s ex­pect­ing the same kind of at­mos­phere de­spite

the un­fa­mil­iar op­po­nent.

“I don’t think it’s go­ing to be dif­fer­ent. A fi­nal is a fi­nal,” Mugu­ruza said. “Only one’s go­ing to win. … The racket has to talk.”

Be­sides her ex­pe­ri­ence on the court, Mugu­ruza also will have some ex­pe­ri­ence be­hind her off of it. She has been work­ing with 1994 Wim­ble­don cham­pion Con­chita Martinez re­cently.

“I think she’s help­ing me to deal with the stress of the tour­na­ment, be­cause it’s a long tour­na­ment,” Mugu­ruza said. “So she just knows how to pre­pare, how to train, what to do.

“Not that I’m do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent, hon­estly. But

to have her by my side gives me also this lit­tle con­fi­dence on hav­ing some­one that has won be­fore.”

Wil­liams and Mugu­ruza have played each other four times be­fore, and the Amer­i­can has won three of them. They have never played on grass.

“It’s good that she’s played her be­fore, and that she’s beaten

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.