LONDON, United Kingdom, Jul 16 – Venus Williams vowed to make amends for her Wimbledon final heartache by ending a bittersweet year on a high at the US Open.
Williams failed in her bid to become the oldest Grand Slam champion in the Open era as the American star was crushed 7-5, 6-0 by Garbine Muguruza in Saturday’s title match.
Instead of celebrating her sixth Wimbledon title, and first major trophy since 2008, the 37-year-old trudged off Centre Court looking her age for virtually the first time in her unexpected 2017 renaissance.
Venus, beaten by sister Serena in the Australian Open final in January, has reached the two Grand Slams finals in the same year for the first time since 2003.
Given her battle with the autoimmune disease that leaves her fatigued and once threatened to end her career, Venus’s return to prominence is a tribute to her ferocious will to win.
With Serena set to miss the rest of the year as she prepares to have her first child, Venus will still be among the favourites to win her eighth Grand Slam title when the US Open gets underway in late August.
“I’m in good form. I’ve been in a position a lot of times this year to contend for big titles,” Venus said.
“That’s the kind of position I want to keep putting myself in. It’s just about getting over the line. I believe I can do that.
“This is where you want to be. I like to win. I don’t want to just get to a final. It’s just about playing a little better.
“I’ve had a great two weeks. I’m looking forward to the rest of the summer.”
– Low note –
Batting away questions that invited her to blame the 24-minute second set meltdown on tiredness caused by her illness, Venus admitted she could have no complaints about the result.
Her only regret was a failure to take the break points that came her way in a fiercely fought first set.
“Definitely would have loved to have converted some of those points. But she competed really well. So credit to her. She played amazing,” Venus said.
“There’s always something to learn from matches that you win and the ones that you don’t win. So there’s definitely something for me to learn from this.
“I went for some big shots and they didn’t land. Probably have to make less errors.”
Umpire Eva Asderaki-Moore had inspected the barren, grassless baseline at Venus’s request before play got underway on Centre Court, but the American wouldn’t criticise the state of a surface that has come under fire from stars including Novak Djokovic.
“They said the court was ready to go, so we started play,” she said.
Twenty years after making her Wimbledon debut, Venus isn’t keen to bow out on such a frustrating low note.
Asked if she would return next year, she said: “Presumably, yes.
“It took a lot of effort to get right here today. So this is where I want to be every single major.
“What else can I say? It was a great experience.”