Another Williams Renaissance Coming?
Published November 21, 2011 12:00
Don't forget the seven Grand Slams or the No.1 ranking she has held, and don't forget the last time she was playing injury and illness free, she was No.2. Like her sister, Venus Williams is a legend and can get right back on the saddle at any moment - and it seems like that moment is right around the corner.
After an impressive first half of 2010, which included a 15-match winning streak that brought her WTA titles at Dubai and Acapulco and to the finals of Miami, Williams went into Wimbledon ranked No.2, trailing only her sister. But a slew of injuries - knee, hip, abdominal, and more recently illness in the form of Sjögren's Syndrome - have limited her to just five events in the last 21 months, and she ended 2011 down at No.103, her first non-Top 100 finish in 15 years.
Williams has been reflecting on her career, her struggles and her comeback in recent weeks. Among her recent appearances was serving as the main guest at the ASPIRE4SPORT sports congress and exhibition in Doha, Qatar, the site of one of her greatest career conquests, the WTA Championships title in 2008.
After announcing Doha as her favorite tournament venue, Williams was asked about her early years in the sport. "I turned pro at the age of 14, which actually changed a lot in my life," she said. "It helped me go to upper high school and practice tennis as well. It was so good to have that balance. I always believed in myself that I was a good tennis player and had a lot of desire."
Williams has always combined a successful career on the court with successful business ventures off the court. "There are so many things that came to me because of the sport, so many lessons," the 31-year-old said. "How to adjust your gameplan, how to quickly adjust if you're losing, how to change marketing and approaches, and how you can be prepared better and come back stronger."
She was also asked about her sister. "It's very challenging to play with Serena because there's so much respect when you play against her. Her achievements over the last few years have been monumental. Even with the health issues she has had, she continues to be great. She's still one of the best players."
In addition to the Q&A session, Williams' Doha activities included a gala dinner alongside fellow sports legends such as Nadia Comaneci and Carl Lewis, as well as a kids clinic and an autograph session for the Qatar Tennis Federation.
Williams has recovered from the aforementioned injuries but is now working on overcoming Sjögren's Syndrome, speaking about that struggle to La Gazzetta.
"I've undergone various medical tests and also studied my diet in detail, to try to get a better understanding of which foods can help with the symptoms," she told the Italian newspaper. "I was the person who always ate their steak first and their salad second - I have totally changed my diet and filled it with lots of vegetables now. I've also kept myself in good physical shape, both in the gym and on the tennis court. I'm really proud of the progress I've been making."
In the next few weeks, Williams is scheduled to play exhibitions in Colombia and Italy, with a full comeback to the WTA starting right at the start of 2012.
"My first tournament will be in Auckland. I've never been to that city before but I've heard great things about the tournament. After so many years I don't get to visit a lot of new places, so that makes it more interesting for me.
"My goal is to play a full schedule next year. It will take hard work, but I'm no stranger to hard work. I plan on getting right back to where I was, at the top of the rankings in singles and doubles, sometime within the next 12 months.
"I love tennis. The racquet feels right in my hand."