At the age of 37 years of age, former world number one Venus Williams continues to defy the odds. The seven-time Grand Slam champion's days of potentially becoming a Grand Slam singles winner again seemed to be over. The American suffers from Sjogren's syndrome which was diagnosed back in 2011. The evidence seemed to be there as Williams withdrew from the second round of the US Open in 2011 when she found out the news.
At the next 10 Grand Slam tournaments that she participated at between the US Open in 2011 and the US Open in 2014, she failed to reach the second week of a Slam, and she seemed to be a fading force. However, the 37-year-old has turned that around from the next nine out of 11 Slams that she has played since the Australian Open in 2015, Williams has reached the second week of a Slam. During that period it has included two quarterfinals runs, a semifinal, and two Grand Slam runner-up finishes. In fact, Williams is currently on the best streak at Slams as she has reached the second week at the last six successive Slams.
Wimbledon is Williams' most successful Grand Slam but it was the best chance for her to add to her Grand Slam tally. Unfortunately, she lost to Garbine Muguruza in straight sets. Nevertheless, the American has shown consistency in 2017, and she could win her first Grand Slam in nine years at the US Open next month.
The seven-time Grand Slam singles champion limits the events that she plays and at 37 years of age, it takes longer for the body to recover. Nonetheless, at the nine events that she has participated in Williams has a healthy 26-8 win-loss record in 2017.
The world number nine traveled to Melbourne, where she was a finalist at the Australian Open back in 2003. Williams defeated the likes of Kateryna Kozlova, Stefanie Voegele, Ying-Ying Duan, Mona Barthel and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets. In the semifinals, the American had to recover from a set down to dispatch her compatriot Coco Vandeweghe, and she advanced to her first Grand Slam final in seven and a half years, since Wimbledon in 2009. Williams lost to her sister Serena, 6-4, 6-4, who claimed an Open Era record of 23 Grand Slam singles titles. The veteran continued her good run of form at the North American Premier Mandatory events in Indian Wells and Miami. She lost to the eventual champions Elena Vesnina and Johanna Konta in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively. During her run in Indian Wells, she defeated the likes of Jelena Jankovic, Lucie Safarova, and Peng Shuai. In Miami, she defeated two multiple Grand Slam champions in Svetlana Kuznetsova and Angelique Kerber.
Williams advanced to the quarterfinals in Rome where she lost to Garbine Muguruza. For the second successive year, she was bidding to reach the quarterfinals at Roland Garros for the first time since 2006. It was not meant to be as Timea Bacsinszky sent her packing at the fourth round stage for the second consecutive year. Williams' reached multiple Grand Slam singles finals for the first time since 2003 by reaching her ninth Wimbledon final. Ironically, she lost both of her Grand Slam singles finals to Serena at the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2003. She lost to Serena at the Australian Open this year, and to Muguruza. It was a good fortnight for Williams at Wimbledon as she defeated French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and Britain's Johanna Konta in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively. She squandered two set points against Muguruza in the first set, and she simply crumbled by not winning another game.
In her first event of the year in Auckland where she won the title in 2015. The seven-time Grand Slam singles champion defeated Jade Lewis in her first match of the new season. Unfortunately, she withdrew before her second round match with Naomi Osaka due to injury. The American lost in the second round in St.Petersburg to Kristina Mladenovic. It was slightly surprising that Williams did not withdraw from the indoor event as she had just reached the final in Melbourne. Another low point for Williams in a fairly successful campaign was a second round loss to Laura Siegemund on the green clay courts of Charleston.
No doubt that the standout results of Williams' 2017 campaign are the two runner-up finishes at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. It is an amazing testament to Williams' desire and hunger to still win more Grand Slams in tennis. Another good result was a semifinal finish in Miami along with quarterfinal finishes in Indian Wells and Rome. Clay is her weakest surface but reaching the fourth round at the French Open is no easy feat.
Williams has remained consistent in 2017 and her only early exits have been in the second round in Auckland, St.Petersburg, and Charleston.
The seven-time Grand Slam singles champion has had a solid campaign in 2017 at the nine events she has played. Two Grand Slam singles finals in your late 30's is not an easy accomplishment to do. It is amazing that Williams continues to get better, and although she has lost a step in her movement. The American's serve has superbly improved. Williams has learned to serve smarter, and she has utilized the body serve to perfection. Her second serve is still weak, which makes it attackable and plays into the hands of stronger returners.
During this second half of the season, Williams will have her eyes on the US Open. It is the final Grand Slam tournament of the year in the Big Apple, and it is a title she has not won since 2001. The entry list has been released for the US Open, and there will be a plethora of former champions in the draw. Williams' season has already been a successful one but to qualify for the WTA Finals and lift an eighth Grand Slam singles title at her home Slam, would make it even sweeter.