COVID-19 Pandemic Hands Venus Williams ‘Unexpected Lesson’ - UBITENNIS
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COVID-19 Pandemic Hands Venus Williams ‘Unexpected Lesson’

The former world No.1 opens up about her experiences this year.

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The mayhem caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has given former world No.1 Venus Williams a fresh perspective on tennis as she vows to continue playing on the Tour.

 

Earlier this year the entire sport came to a halt for weeks due to the pandemic and Williams spent a total of three months at her home for the first time since she was 17. On the court, she has endured a dismal time by winning just one match in eight tournaments played. Doing so at the Lexington Open against Victoria Azarenka during the summer.

Despite the results, Williams says her love for the sport has intensified during the Tour lockdown. Writing a reflective article on her year, the five-time Grand Slam winner says she received an ‘unexpected lesson’ in appreciation.

“At the end of those three months, I longed for tennis,” she wrote. “With months without the game and no clear timeline on when it was coming back, I found a new appreciation for tennis. I discovered true excitement in my craft, in being good at something. Sport is in my soul and tennis is in my blood. I appreciate this years’ unexpected lesson in appreciation.”

Elaborating further, Williams says the biggest issue for her on the Tour has been playing without fans cheering her on. Due to the pandemic tournaments such as the US Open took place behind closed doors for the first time in history. Meanwhile, others did allow spectators but at a reduced capacity. An approach that is expected to continue into next year with the Australian Open currently aiming to fill 25% of the capacity of their three premier courts.

“Playing without fans was a drag, continues to be a drag, and will forever be a drag until we can get our fans back safely! The fans are ones that give us athletes a chance to have a job. If the fans don’t watch, if no one cares, we are irrelevant. There is no sport without fans,” Williams explains.
“I am an introvert, I always found the fans overwhelming in a way, more than I could handle. I was wrong. I thought I was playing for me, but all along I was playing for them. The echo of empty stadiums rang louder with each contest. The silence was too much to bear. Right now I can’t handle not being without the fans.”

As well as the no fans, players have been abiding by stricter rules than ever before regarding what they can or can’t go. ‘Bubbles’ have been set up across the world at events to prevent them from catching or potentially spreading COVID-19.

Whilst the bubble approach has been praised. Various players have talked about the mental toll it takes on them. Williams is the latest to express her view by voicing her support for the approach but adds that she finds it both lonely and trying at times.

“Being in a bubble is no fun. It isn’t until your freedom is taken away from you that you know what freedom is! It’s so strange to be told where you can go, where you can’t go, who you can sit next to, how long you can stay someplace….its ALOT! Being in a bubble is a small price to ask for health and wellness for not only yourself but for the world. Still, I must say, it’s trying!” she concluded.

At the age of 40 Williams is the second oldest player on the WTA Tour to have an official ranking after Hungary’s Greta Arn. She hasn’t won a WTA singles title of any sort since the 2016 Taiwan Open.

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Felix Auger Aliassime leads the ATP Next Gen Race to Milan

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Felix Auger Aliassime rose to the top of the ATP Next Gen Race to Milan after strong performances at Wimbledon, Cincinnati and at the uS Open. 

 

After reaching the quarter final at Wimbledon the Canadian player advanced to the last eight at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas. It was the second time he reached the quarter final in a Masters 1000 tournament. 

At the US Open the 21-year-old Canadian player edged Roberto Bautista Agut in a five-set match before beating Frances Tiafoe to reach the semifinals. Auger Aliassime became the first Canadian player to reach the semifinals at the US Open in the tournament history and the youngest player since Juan Martin Del Potro won the tournament in 2009. 

“I am happy with the level I have been playing at times, with the results I have had. It’s a positive week. Things are moving in the right direction”, said Auger Aliassime. Carlos Alcaraz has become the fourth player to secure a spot in the Next Gen ATP Finals after Auger Aliassime, Jannik Sinner and Sebastian Korda. Alcaraz became the youngest US Open quarter finalist in the Open Era after scoring an upset third-set win over Stefanos Tsitsipas. The player coached by Juan Carlos Ferrero also won the ATP 250 title in Umag and reached the semfinals in Marbella and Winston Salem.

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Liudmila Samsonova sets up semifinal against Jelena Ostapenko in Luxembourg

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Liudmila Samsonova upset this year’s Olympic champion Belinda Bencic 6-1 6-4 with three breaks of serve to reach her third semifinal of the season at the Luxembourg Open. 

 

Samsonova broke twice in the second and sixth games to win the first set 6-1. The Russian player claimed the second set 6-1 with a break in the third game and sealed the win on her first match point. 

Samsonova beat Bencic for the second time this season after beating the Swiss player in the final of the WTA grass tournament in Berlin. 

Bencic dropped serve three times in her first tournament since reaching the quarter finals at the US Open where she lost to eventual champion Emma Raducanu. 

Samsonova will face 2019 Luxemburg Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, who edged past Alizé Cornet 7-6 (8-6) 6-2. Ostapenko improved her winning streak to 8-0. Ostapenko went down a break twice in the first set. Cornet earned a chance to serve for the set at 5-4, but Ostapenko did not face any set point. Ostapenko saved the first set point in the tie-break before earning the mini-break to win the tie-break 8-6. Ostapenko broke twice in the third and seventh games to win the second set 6-2. 

Marketa Vondrousova completed the semifinal line-up with a 7-5 6-2 win over number 2 seed Elise Mertens after 1 hour and 37 minutes. Mertens broke serve in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead. Vondrousova won four consecutive games with two breaks to take a 7-5 lead. The Czech player broke twice in a row in the third and fifth games to win the second set 6-2. 

Clara Tauson broke twice in each set to beat Marie Bouzkova 6-3 6-2. 

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Venus Williams Explains Met Gala Photo With Maria Sharapova

The former world No.1 says she and her sister Serena have ‘respect and love’ for Sharapova.

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Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams at the 20201 Met Gala (image via Instagram)

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams says there are no hard feelings between her, her sister Serena and Maria Sharapova after the trio took a photo together at the Met Gala.

 

The former world No.1s was seen smiling and laughing together at the New York fundraising event with both of the Williams sisters uploading a photo of them all on their Instagram story. Prompting surprise from some fans considering the at times icy rivalry between Serena and Sharapova that dates back to the 2004 Wimbledon Championships.

In her 2017 autobiography, Unstoppable: My Life So Far, Sharapova mentioned Serena’s name more than 100 times. She says the American hated her for beating her at Wimbledon that year and that the two were ‘not friends.’

“What I heard when I came in to the locker room was Serena Williams bawling,” Sharapova wrote.
“Guttural sobs. I got out as quickly as I could, but she knew I was there.
“I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds … I think she hated me for seeing her at her lowest moment.
“But mostly I think she hated me for hearing her cry. She’s never forgiven me for it.”

Responding to the claims, Serena hit back at the book in 2018 by describing it as ‘hearsay’ and said she never had any ‘negative feelings’ towards Sharapova. The two clashed on the Tour no fewer than 22 times with Serena winning 20 of those meetings.

“So I don’t have any negative feelings towards her, which again, was a little disappointing to see in that hearsay book,” Williams commented back in 2018. “So I have always, you know, and especially having a daughter, like, I feel like negativity is taught. One of the things I always say, I feel like women, especially, should bring each other up.”

Three years later and it now seems that all parties have put their disagreements behind them. At the Met Gala they were seen getting on pretty well. Besides posing for a photo together, they were also seen together in the bathroom at the event. A photo taken by pop star Anitta and rapper Saweetie which showed them in the background.

Speaking about the event for the first time, 41-year-old Williams said she wishes Sharapova was still playing before adding that they still ‘respect and love’ each other.

“First of all, Serena and I were talking about Maria the day before,” the 41-year-old explained on Instagram.
“We were like, ‘Damn, I wish Maria was still playing.’
“And we saw her, and we both told her separately, ‘Oh my gosh, we were just talking about you yesterday, we wish you were still on tour.’
“We were so happy to see each other. There was hugs, there was laughing, there were stories, and there was a photo.
“So the backstory is that even though us players compete really hard of the court for years, we still respect and love each other, and love Maria
.”

Williams, Serena and Sharapova have won a total of 35 Grand Slam singles titles between them.

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