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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Australia fights back from losing the first match to reach the Davis Cup final

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Australia fought back from losing the first singles match to beat Croatia 2-1 reaching its first Davis Cup in 19 years. 

 

Alex De Minaur cruised past Marin Cilic 6-2 6-2 in just 44 minutes to send the semifinal to decisive doubles match. Cilic made 10 double faults, as De Minaur broke four times to draw level to 2-2 in his head-to-head matches. De Minaur has improved his Davis Cup hard-court singles record to 10-1 in the Davis Cup. 

“This is what this team is about, that never say-die attitude. I have had a couple of instances when I have been in this position and I feel like my back is against the wall, and there is only a wall to break through, and that’s going forward steam ahead and just going after every single point. My job was to keep us alive, and I am happy to do anything I can do for my country”, said De Minaur. 

Jordan Thompson and Max Purcell came back from one set down to beat Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 6-4. Thompson and Purcell broke twice and never dropped a service game to come back from losing the first-set tie-break. 

The first set went on serve with no breaks of serve en route to the tie-break. Mektic and Pavic earned three mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-3. 

Thompson and Purcell broke serve in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead and held serve in the 12th game to force the match to the decider. The Australian team broke again in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and held their next two service games to close out the third set 6-4. 

Australia won its 28th and last title in 2003. 

“I am so proud. Australia has a rich history in this competition. We have been fortunate to win it all on a number of occasions. I know what it meant to me as a player to play a final, and I am glad these guys can play it”, said Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt. 

Australia will face either Italy or Canada in the final. 

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Borna Coric beats Thanasi Kokkinakis to give Croatia a 1-0 lead against Australia in Davis Cup semifinal in Malaga

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Borna Coric beat Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4 6-3 after 1 hour and 32 minutes with a break in each set to give Croatia a 1-0 lead over Australia in the first match of the semifinal of the Davis Cup by Rakuten in Malaga. 

 

Coric hit 19 winners to just 9 unforced errors. 

Kokkinakis saved a break point in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. The Croatian player converted his third break point at deuce in the 10th game to close out the first set 6-4. 

Coric faced the only break point at the second set and earned the only break in the sixth game to seal the win 6-4 6-3. 

“This means a lot to me. I was watching the guys playing Davis Cup when I was injured and doing my rehab. To play for Croatia is an amazing feeling for me. I was turning to my coach in the first set and saying: ‘I don’t know what to do against his serve’, but I started to read it later on, and thankfully I was serving well myself. When I was younger, I did not serve so well and I needed to improve it. After my shoulder injury I did not know whether I would be able to serve again at all, but I did so much work on it that I serve even better now then I used to”, said Coric.

Alex De Minaur will face 2018 Davis Cup champion Marin Cilic. In their previous head-to-head matches Cilic leads 2-1 over De Minaur and beat the Australian player 6-1 5-7 6-4 in the Group Stage of the Davis Cup finals. 

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Bianca Andreescu Reunites With Former Coach Ahead Of New Season 

How will the Grand Slam champion fair on the Tour with her latest mentor?

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BIANCA ANDREESCU OF CANADA - PHOTO: ALBERTO NEVADO / MMO

Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu has brought a familiar face back into her team as she bids to return to her best form in 2023. 

 

Andreescu, who is currently ranked 45th in the WTA rankings, has appointed Christophe Lambert as her latest coach. Lambert had been working as the performance director at Tennis New Zealand and resigned from that position to work with the former US Open champion. He had also previously worked for Tennis Canada and during that time he was a private coach for Andreescu in 2016. 

“Bianca asked me to coach her and I accepted the job. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Lambert told sport.co.nz. 

Lambert, who has also spent time working with the Chinese Davis Cup team and for the British LTA, has stayed in contact with Andreescu ever since coaching her six years ago. 

“It wasn’t like every week or every month. It’s always good to have people calling you when you are up, but when she was down I was checking on her and giving her my opinion.” He said. 

Andreescu had been working with Dutch coach Sven Groeneveld for over a year before they decided to end their collaboration in October. Groeneveld has a wealth of experience in the sport after working with a series of top names, including Maria Sharapova. 

This season the former world No.4 has won 20 out of 33 matches played with her best performance being a run to the final of the Bad Homburg Open in Germany. However, her record against top 10 opposition was 2-5.

“I’m just taking it day by day, and it’s a great way to end off the year as well, just bringing back all the emotions that fire a lot in me,” Andreescu recently told reporters in Glasgow at the Billie Jean King Cup. “I think I’m going to have a great preseason. Next year I really think I can crack the top 10 again.”

Andreescu, who has been hampered by injury issues in recent years, hasn’t won a singles title of any sort since 2019. 

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