Venus Rising Again?
by Paula Vergara
Some may say that it's too soon to tell, but 5-time Wimledon champ Venus Williams may finally be ready for her ascent. She has her sights set on the 2012 Olympics, which was made evident by her Fed Cup participation in February (mandatory for Olympic eligibility). And with the 2012 Olympic games just four months away, Venus will be making a serious push to get her game back to where it needs to be.
For Venus, it's no longer a question of being able to climb back to the pinnacle of women's tennis. The question is, can she even qualify for the event that represents the pinnacle of tennis? Venus won the gold medal in singles at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, as well as two gold medals in women's doubles. She still holds the record for the most number of Olympic gold medals of any female tennis player. In 2000, Williams also became the second player in tennis history to win Olympic gold medals in both singles and doubles at the same Olympic Games. Helen Mills Moody was the first, back in 1924.
In order for Venus to qualify for direct acceptance into the upcoming London Olympics, she has to be one of the top six ranked American players by June 11, 2012. The Olympic Committee bases their player selection on world rankings as of that date. Currently at No. 136, Venus is the 10th highest ranked American in singles. Even if she wanted to play mixed doubles at the London Olympics, she would have to be entered into the singles or doubles competition to qualify.
Without a doubt, Venus has a steep mountain to climb, but still has the competitive drive to keep going. Truth be told, most tennis careers have a shelf life of 12-15 years. At the age of 31, Venus' tennis career has spanned an astonishing 17 years.
Her biggest stumbling block moving forward? Sjorgen's Syndrome, battling a difficult to treat illness, which doesn't exactly put the odds for success in her favor.
In the very short-term, Venus is making progress, but her recovery is slow.
"I'm still fighting fatigue. I'm getting better," said Venus after her successful Fed Cup run in February. "I mean, it just takes a while to kind of find the right medicines that work, to get stronger. Once you do have a chance to get on the court, it takes at least six weeks to build a nice baseline so you just don't get hurt. The big push for me is the Olympics this year, so I can get back on the court and get my ranking up. If I'm healthy, I'm not worried about my ranking. I think I can hit the ball. It's just about my body cooperating. It's about being able to play matches in a row. Right now I'm not sure how much I can do with that, but we'll see."
Venus has entered The Family Circle Cup (Charleston), a tournament that she won in 2004, but hasn't played since 2009. The Sony Ericsson Open (Miami) is also on her schedule, which she won 3 times, and made the final in 2010 (losing to Clijsters). She just recently signed on to play World Team Tennis for the Washington Kastles in July, just prior to the London Olympics.
Whatever Venus Williams achieves on the court moving forward, one thing is certain: A legend is always a legend, no matter how far they have to climb back.