At 43, evergreen Venus returns to favourite hunting ground Wimbledon

LONDON, July 3 (US): Twenty-six years after Venus Williams made her debut at Wimbledon, the five-time winner will be back on Center Court again Monday, and the 43-year-old American said she could even play her. is 50.

“It’s never happened before, so if anyone could do it, it would be me,” Williams told reporters before her confrontation with fellow wildcard Elina Svitolina.

Her sister Serena quit the sport at the US Open last year and became the greatest player in the Open Era with 23 Grand Slam titles.

However, Venus has battled injuries despite falling out of the top 1000 in the rankings at one stage last year, but she has no plans to follow her younger sister into retirement anytime soon.

After appearing in Auckland in January, she took six months off to recover from a hamstring injury and played just three matches on the lawn, reaching the All England Club with a ranking of 554.

“(The injury was) a nightmare and rehabilitation is very difficult. I haven’t played a lot of games in the last few years and it’s not by choice,” Williams said.

“So I wanted to be (play) and I couldn’t. I put my head down and put in a little more work and got into a much better position.”

Of those three matches, her only win came against Camila Giorgi – former Wimbledon quarter-finalist – in Birmingham.

But Williams will have the satisfaction of coming out on top despite knee problems after a grueling battle that lasted more than three hours.

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Williams hasn’t won a singles title on the WTA Tour since 2016 and when asked what keeps her going, she says with a smile, “Well, there are really nice insurance benefits on the tour!”

World No. 1 and French Open champion Iga Swiatek also plays on the first day of the tournament when she faces China’s Zhou Lin in the first round.

The Pole said she was better prepared for the grass-court swing this year after collapsing under the pressure of the 2022 No. 1 ranking in a third-round exit.

“Last year I felt a lot of pressure here because I was number one,” she said.

“I feel like this time… I can just focus on practicing, and actually learn a lot. So I hope I can use that in my matches.”

Fans will also see the return of one of their favorites in last year’s runners-up Nick Kyrgios as the mercurial Aussie returns from knee surgery with just one match under his belt in 2023 ahead of his match against David Goffin.

Four Americans will face each other, with seventh seed Sofia Kenin taking on Coco Gauff while fourth seed Jessica Pegula taking on Lauren Davis.


MI






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