Venus Williams is gearing up for a return to tennis in the North American hard-court season -- and is taking inspiration from her sister, Serena Williams, to get her there.
Venus, the former World No.1 and seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, opened up on the injury struggles she's had over the past year in a recent video posted to her YouTube channel over the weekend, where she dubbed playing at the WTA 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami a "big goal."
In the video, Williams, 43, discussed the knee injury that left her hobbling off Centre Court at Wimbledon last summer (she took a fall in the second game of her first-round match against Elina Svitolina) at length for the first time.
"I don't talk a lot about my injuries because I hate complaining," she began, but called the cartilage damage she suffered as one of the "craziest" injuries she's tried to play through in her long and storied career.
After the early exit at Wimbledon, Williams said the lingering swelling and pain impacted her ability to train -- and even, sometimes, walk -- in advance of events in Montreal and Cincinnati, as well as the US Open. Despite that, she scored what was then a Top 10 victory over Veronika Kudermetova in Cincinnati -- her first Top 10 win in four years. But after that tournament, the swelling in her knee "blew up" and she was forced to withdraw from the WTA 250 event in Cleveland -- where she had intended to play as a wild-card entry.
"I felt terrible about that, because when I give my word, I keep it," she said. "When I said I was going to Cleveland, I meant it, and the fact I had to withdraw, I felt miserable because that's not me. I do what I say I'm going to do."
In an effort to play the US Open, Williams revealed she had a cortisone injection for the first time in her three-decade career, but it did little to help. Her season eventually ended with a 6-1, 6-1 loss to Belgian qualifier Greet Minnen in the first round -- the heaviest defeat she ever suffered at her home Grand Slam event.
The loss sparked an "honest conversation" with herself, Williams said, and helped her realize that coming back to tennis ready to compete would be a marathon, not a sprint. But some strong words from Serena helped, too -- and ensured that fans should get a chance to see her in action again later this year.
"One of my big goals is to play United States, to play in the Miami Open and at Indian Wells," Williams said. "I have not played there since 2019 due to injuries. It's a long time. ... It's a lot of years not to play at home. So that's of course one of my big goals on the horizon, is to be there, prepare to do that. Amongst many goals on the court, too."
"My little sister, Serena, told me I'm not allowed to quit, and of course, I would never quit," Venus Williams said. "But it's the mandate. She said no, so I will be back on the court."