Rio 2016: Venus Williams vs Kirsten Flipkens first round preview
Flipkens and Williams shake hands following their first round match at the US Open in 2013 (Source : Rediff)

Venus Williams will be representing the United States at the Olympics for an unprecedented fifth time in her illustrious career, and the veteran seven-time Grand Slam champion, who has four gold medals in her cabinet, is hungry for more.

Kirsten Flipkens has struggled with her tennis since reaching the semifinals of Wimbledon back in 2013 but the Belgian is not to be taken lightly and could cause Williams some problems in their first round encounter.

Williams' Olympics history

The fifth-seeded American first competed at the Olympics in Sydney at the age of 20 in 2000 and it was a clean sweep for Williams as she claimed the gold medal in the singles event as the second seed by defeating tenth-seeded Russian, Elena Dementieva, who went on to claim Gold eight years later in Beijing.

Williams' gold medal would go with her Wimbledon and US Open titles that she picked up in the summer, and the American would go on to claim Gold in the doubles with her sister Serena as an unseeded duo.

Four years later at the Olympics in Greece, Williams was seeded sixth and breezed past her opening two matches but fell to France's Mary Pierce in the third round.

She paired up with Chanda Rubin, instead of Serena, who withdrew from the event due to a knee injury. The American duo lost in the first round and it remains to be the only Olympics that Williams did not leave with a medal.

Williams smiles with her Olympic Gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 (Photo by Clive Brunskill / Source : Getty Images)
Williams smiles with her Olympic Gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 (Photo by Clive Brunskill / Source : Getty Images)

At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Williams was aiming to regain her Gold medals in both disciplines but she was unsuccessful in the singles event as she lost to China's future two-time Grand Slam champion Li Na in the quarterfinals.

Williams and her sister Serena would go to regain their gold medal in the doubles as the second seeds.

In 2012 at the London Olympics, the Games were played at Wimbledon and on Williams' favourite surface on grass but the American lost in the third round to Germany's Angelique Kerber in two tiebreak sets.

The Williams' sisters, however, retained their gold medal in the doubles event which was their third triumph overall and in the process, both sisters have four gold medals each in their cabinets as Serena claimed gold in the singles that year.

Flipkens' notable results

The Belgian will be participating in her first Olympic Games, where she began the year in Auckland with a quarterfinal finish, and went on to compete at the Australian Open but lost to Garbiñe Muguruza in the second round.

The 30-year-old reached the final in Acapulco but lost to Britain's Heather Watson. Flipkens then beat Watson's compatriot, Laura Robson, in the first round at the Miami Open but lost to Williams' compatriot Madison Keys in the second round.

Flipkens suffered a quarterfinal exit at the hands of Camila Giorgi at the Katowice Open and didn't pick up a single victory during the clay court season, which culminated with a first-round exit to Alizé Cornet at the French Open.

Flipkens representing Belgium in the Fed Cup in 2004 (Photo by Cristina Quicler / Source : Getty Images)
Flipkens representing Belgium in the Fed Cup in 2004 (Photo by Cristina Quicler / Source : Getty Images)

At the new grass court event in Mallorca, Flipkens gained a victory over Muguruza, who had just won the French Open a couple days prior, and eventually reached the semifinals but lost to eventual champion Carolina Garcia.

Flipkens suffered another early exit at a Grand Slam, as she lost to Keys again in the second round of Wimbledon and she hasn't competed on the main tour since then.

Their history

Williams and Flipkens have played each other three times and all of their meetings have occurred on hard courts. The veteran American leads their head-to-head 2-1.

Their first encounter took place in a Fed Cup tie between the United States and Belgium in 2007 and Williams was victorious in that match, 7-5, 6-2.

Flipkens recovered from a slow start at the Rogers Cup in Toronto in 2013 as she defeated the American, 0-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the first round, however, a few weeks later at the US Open, Williams gained her revenge as she defeated the Belgium in straight sets a few weeks later, 6-1, 6-2, in the first round.

Who wins?

The fifth seed will be full of confidence as she reached the semifinals of Wimbledon, her first appearance in a Grand Slam semifinal since 2009, and won the doubles title with her sister Serena.

The American has since reached the final in Stanford, losing to Britain's Johanna Konta in three sets and suffered a defeat at the Coupe Rogers in the third round to her compatriot Keys, so she is prepared on this surface.

Flipkens may not be having the best of seasons but she is a dangerous player, as she likes to slice and she is very fast around the court which means she can track down plenty of balls.

However, the Olympics mean a lot to Williams and this is most likely going to be her last appearance at the Olympics and she will give it her all.

The Belgian is used to playing on the big stage and she was close to winning Wimbledon in 2013 as she reached the semifinals, and since this is a match at the Olympics, it will be a different atmosphere to a match on the main tour with more pride representing your country.

This is the fourth match scheduled on Centre Court at not before 6:45pm local time and the winner of this match will face the Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova or Italy's Karin Knapp in the second round.

Prediction: Williams in straight sets