Back to her best, Venus eyes historic Wimbledon title
LONDON, England - At an age when her contemporaries have long since retired, Venus Williams says she is playing some of the best tennis of her life, but the Wimbledon finalist isn't finished yet as she eyes a place in the record books.
Williams is the oldest Wimbledon finalist for 23 years after she over-powered Britain's Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2.
The 37-year-old returns to the All England Club title match after an 8-year absence and will be the oldest Grand Slam champion in the Open era if she beats Spain's Garbine Muguruza on Saturday, July 15.
That would give Venus a sixth Wimbledon title, and eighth Grand Slam crown, 9 years after she last lifted the trophy, completing an incredible comeback after she battled an autoimmune disease that left her fatigued and threatened to force her out of tennis.
In the twilight of her career, Venus has hit a rich vein of form over the last 12 months.
She was Australian Open runner-up in January to sister Serena, only to have her life thrown into turmoil last month when she was accidently involved in a car crash in Florida that led to the death of an elderly man.
A less strong-willed personality would have gone into hiding, but Venus, after choking back tears when asked about the incident at the start of Wimbledon, has taken solace in her tennis.
"There were definitely some issues. There's definitely a lot of ups and downs," Venus said.
"I just try to hold my head up high, no matter what is happening in life. In sport especially, you have injuries. You have illnesses.
"You're not going to be always playing 100 percent. If I decide to walk out on the court, I try to just compete that day. That's what I try to do."
Knocking on the door
Ominously for Muguruza, who lost the 2015 Wimbledon final to Serena, the American is certain she is close to the form that saw her dominate a decade ago.
"I've played some good tennis in different points of my life. I think it's wonderful to have the opportunity to play well and to be strong," she said.
"Experience can either work against you or for you. I like to think it's working for me.
"This year has been amazing in terms of my play, playing deep into the big events.
"I'm definitely in the position I want to be in. It's a long two weeks. Now I'm knocking on the door for a title. This is where I want to be."
Konta had marched onto Centre Court hoping to become the first British woman to reach the final since Virginia Wade in 1977, but the world number seven trudged off 73 minutes later with her dream in tatters
Serving a 106mph second serve on break point at 4-4 in the first set was just one example of the nerveless way Williams shattered Konta's spirit.
"I don't know if it was the be all and end all but it took my break point chance away. It showed why she's a five-time champion," Konta said.
"That was one of the few opportunities I had and she took them away."
Despite losing for the second time in a Grand Slam semi-final, Konta is convinced her run proves she can win a major one day.
"Quite honestly I think I was in with a shot of winning the tournament. I definitely don't see why I won't be a position to win a title like this one," she said. – Rappler.com