2021 Viking Open Nottingham

Olympic dream for Williams at Wimbledon warm-up event

Venus Williams may be ready to hang up her racquet soon, yet she is set to compete at this year’s Nottingham Open in a determined bid to reach the Olympics.

The ten-time Grand Slam winner, who is partnering US compatriot Cori “Coco” Gauff in the Ladies Doubles at the French Open, will be aiming to sharpen her grass court skills ahead of what could possibly be the 40-year-old’s final Wimbledon appearance.

Williams, a five-time Wimbledon champion, is due to make her debut at the Nottingham Open tournament (5-13 June) but if she is still involved at Roland Garros will be unable to compete.

The Florida-based legend has previously played on other British grass events leading up to The Championships, making an impact at both Birmingham’s Edgbaston Priory Club and Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park.

Now ranked just outside the world’s top 100, Williams has four Olympic gold medals but only boasts the Singles gold from the 2000 Games in Australia, so has long been on a downward spiral on the WTA Tour.

Williams last captured a Singles title five years ago, for her 49th WTA Tour crown, yet seems 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.

Williams (left) congratulates Gauff at Wimbledon 2018

The following season it was Gauff who burst onto the scene with her emphatic destruction of Williams on Wimbledon Centre Court in 2018 aged just 15. The teenager has bulldozed herself up the world ranking while Williams is going in a reverse direction.

With Gauff’s remarkable clay court campaign pushing her closer to grabbing the fourth automatic Singles spot for the USA Olympic team to compete at this year’s Games in Japan, there remains hope for Williams to also make it to Tokyo. The veteran could be named in the Olympic team for Doubles and Mixed Doubles, depending on her Doubles results in Paris and potentially Nottingham.

Gauff, no stranger to Doubles, stormed to the of the 2020 and 2021 Australian Open quarter-finals with USA’s Caty McNally. The pair had planned to play at Roland Garros, but McNally injured herself during a qualifying round ahead of this year’s tournament in Paris and so Williams was drafted in.

Should Williams fail to make the Olympic cut then it would arguably most likely bring down the curtain on her illustrious career, which includes scooping seven Grand Slam Singles crowns with aplomb.

Realistically fans’ favourite Williams will be hard pressed to make much of an impact at Singles at either the Nottingham Open and indeed Wimbledon. Out-of-form Eastbourne-based Johanna Konta, British no.2 Heather Watson and current world number 11 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland are the other attractions at Singles.

Yet it will be the Doubles where Williams aims to bounce back and show her mettle as she tries to prolong her career in the sport that she has adorned since turning professional in 1994.

🇺🇸 Venus Williams
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