Icon aiming for last shot at Olympics
Venus Williams, the US veteran, will be making her Nottingham Open debut after suffering opening round French Open defeats in both the Singles and Doubles events.
The ten-time Grand Slam winner, who is fast slipping down the world rankings and surely on the verge of retiring, is determined to reach the Olympics so is eager to pick up Doubles points on the WTA Tour.
On the red clay in Paris it was no.32 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova who brushed aside the former world no.1 in just 56 minutes 6-3, 6-1. Williams won 45% of her first serve points and only 19% points of her second serves.
The Florida-based legend arrives for the grass court season on a four-match losing streak, stretching back to the Miami Open in March. She has competed in seven tournaments this year but has only two victories, both in January, in the opening round at the Yarra Valley Classic and the Australian Open.
Williams partnered US compatriot Cori “Coco” Gauff, 23 years her junior, in the Ladies Doubles at Roland Garros as a late replacement for injured American ace Caty McNally. But they bowed out after a little over two hours in three sets – 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3 – to no.13 seeds Ellen Perez (Australia) and Saisai Zheng (China).
It was the first match together for the American pair, who have only faced each other twice on the WTA Tour. The tenacious teenager started the ball rolling by stunning her childhood idol in a memorable 1st Round Centre Court match at Wimbledon two years old.
Williams, a five-time Wimbledon champion, is possibly due to make this her final competitive appearance at The Championships. Having never competed at Nottingham before suggests that she is desperately aiming to sharpen her grass court skills ahead of a Wimbledon finale.
She has played on other British grass events leading up to The Championships, previously making an impact at both Birmingham’s Edgbaston Priory Club and Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park.
But now ranked just outside the world’s top 100, Williams has long been on a downward spiral on the WTA Tour. She is arguably a shadow of the player who enjoyed a highly productive campaign in 2017, when she raced into the finals at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
Gauff burst onto the scene with her emphatic destruction of Williams at Wimbledon aged just 15, and ever since the veteran has been struggling on the WTA Tour.
Yet Williams is aiming to have her swansong at the delayed Toyko Olympic Games, having won four Olympic gold medals (only one at Singles), and is hoping to win enough world ranking points to be named for the US Tennis Team at Doubles in Japan.
Women’s Singles Entry List
|Alison van Uytvanck||BEL||67|
|Harriet Dart (WC)||GBR||143|
|Fran Jones (WC)||GBR||187|
|Katie Boulter (WC)||GBR||262|