MONTREAL, Canada -- Venus Williams is set to make her first appearance at the Omnium Banque Nationale since 2018, and the former No.1 is relishing every moment of it.
"I feel like it's been too long," Williams said at Media Day on Sunday. "I really fought my utmost to be here. Icing five times a day, therapy three times a day, praying, all sorts of interventions.
"I've never played here a lot in my career, and I just didn't want to miss it. So I gave it my all to be here. So I'm going to give my best out there on court."
A finalist in 2014, Williams is set to make her fourth appearance in Montreal when she faces No.16 Madison Keys in the first round. It will be her first tournament since her first-round loss at Wimbledon to Elina Svitolina, a match in which the American injured herself after a slip and fall.
"I love what I do and over the past few years for me, they haven't been healthy years," Williams said. "I need to be in a place where I can play on my terms the way I'd like to play."
Staying healthy has been the biggest bugbear for Williams over the last years, but this season on grass she seemed to be gaining traction. Her three-set win over Jelena Ostapenko in the first round of Birmingham was a significant result. She bowed out to three sets in the next round to Camila Giorgi, but the match was another building block. She lost narrowly in a third-set tiebreak.
Williams made it clear that it is not the mind or the willpower that is holding her back. She needs to be able to play over a longer stretch without major injury or illness.
"I could be doing a bunch of other things besides hours of training, and there's a lot of fun things to do, a lot of intriguing things to do, a lot of work things that I could be doing," Williams said. "So continuing to make that choice, to put in hour after hour is probably the toughest part.
"I don't know how anyone else trains but I train until failure. So when the day is over, it's because I couldn't go any further. Then the next day starts and you train once again into failure. That kind of intensity, it's a lot, but it's what is required. It's all I know. I still pursue other things. But to be great at anything, you have to give it a million percent."
Peppered once again by questions about why she continues to put herself through it all, the seven-time major champion reiterated the joy of the win and, perhaps more importantly, the journey.
"Winning is not just the moment, winning is the culmination of the efforts that it takes to get to that moment," she said. "So when you succeed and you execute the things the way you want to, it is the ultimate satisfaction because it is the ultimate effort that went into it. So the winning starts long beforehand."
When a reporter pointed out how joyous Williams looked over the weekend during practice on site, Williams pointed to the busy fan atmosphere the tournament has enjoyed during qualifying weekend.
"I was reminded how much everyone loves this tournament, and to see all the support in the qualifying and the quality of the matches, I was just very excited to be a part of that," she said.
As her media day wrapped up, Williams offered one more piece of wisdom for not just aspiring tennis players, but for her own colleagues in the locker room. At a time when more players are focusing on their mental health and balancing the grind of the tour with their joy of the game, Williams offered some pragmatic, if not philosophical advice.
"Tennis is a game," she said. "It's a job. I don't take it personal. I want to be my best and I'm not happy when I lose, and I don't like some of the results that may happen, but it's a job.
"So if you can take the emotion out of it and realize this is my job, I think most people when they go through stuff and they're unhappy, they don't quit their job. They gotta keep the lights on. Tennis really is the same thing. You keep going to work. I think I always understood that."