At The Age Of 37, Venus Williams Continues To Inspire Her Rivals

Venus Williams (zimbio.com)

Venus Williams’ influence within the women’s tour is once again on show at their week’s Canadian Open in Toronto.

The Wimbledon finalist started her campaign at the tournament with a tough 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, win over Irina Camelia-Begu during a rain-interrupted match. It may not have been the smoothest of matches, but the outcome was another milestone in Williams’ career.

“This is my first win in Toronto dating back to 1995. I’ve had to wait more than 20 years to finally win a match here so it’s really sweet.” Said Williams, who will next play Kateřina Siniaková.

Seeded ninth in the tournament, Williams is used to being admired by some of her younger rivals. The latest is Canadian 20-year-old Françoise Abanda, who lost her first round match. Abanda achieved a ranking best of 120th earlier this year and has won three ITF titles in her career so far.

“I keep telling my mom, ‘How is she still making the final of Grand Slams?’ It’s so tough to make a final or semifinal. It’s very inspiring what she’s doing and I have a lot of respect for her because it’s a very tough sport to keep coming up with results and performing every time,” Abanda told cbc.ca.

Williams’ longevity on the tour is one that only a select few in the women’s game have ever been able to emulate. Since 1997 she has participated in 75 grand slam main draws, winning seven titles. Overall, she has featured in 82 WTA finals. 12 of which occurred after she was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, a long-term autoimmune disease.

The achievements of the American was best summarised by Garbine Muguruza, who defeated Williams in the Wimbledon final. The Spanish world No.4 is 14 years younger than her opponent.

“She is such an incredible player. I grew up watching her play. So it is incredible play her in the final.” Muguruza said during the trophy ceremony.

It isn’t just Williams’ performance that influences her rivals, it is what she says too. When she commented that Japanese No.1 Naomi Osaka has a similar game to her, the 19-year-old was left star-struck.

“I’m kind of honored, because I don’t think I would have started playing if Venus and Serena weren’t, like, there for me growing up.” Osaka told reporters earlier this year.
“it’s kind of weird to hear that she, like, maybe she even talked about me.”

The ability to inspire a group of younger players on the tour is one that many dream of achieving. Williams may not be the most decorated athlete in the sport, but her influence remains undisputed.

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