US Open 2017

Venus relishes sporting chance

American Venus Williams hitting a backhand to Czech Petra Kvitova during their US Open women's singles clash. Williams, 37, won 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2) to become the oldest US Open semi-finalist.
American Venus Williams hitting a backhand to Czech Petra Kvitova during their US Open women's singles clash. Williams, 37, won 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2) to become the oldest US Open semi-finalist.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Oldest US Open semi-finalist in contention to win first title at Flushing Meadows since 2001

NEW YORK • Now 37 and in the twilight of a sparkling career, the opportunities Venus Williams lives for are not supposed to come around as often as they once did.

But there she was on Tuesday, battling and grabbing her chances when they came, capitalising on just enough of them to secure a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2) win over Petra Kvitova and a spot in the US Open semi-finals.

The American also became the oldest semi-finalist in the Grand Slam tournament's history.

"Sometimes you have opportunities and sometimes you take them and you don't, but it's not like you get opportunity after opportunity after opportunity in these sorts of matches," said Williams, after hitting five aces and 21 winners in a match lasting 2hr 34min. "You have to take the ones you have."

She has taken those words to heart in a renaissance season that has seen her reach the Australian Open and Wimbledon finals.

She is just one victory away from playing for the US Open title for the first time since 2002.

LOVE ALL THINGS TENNIS

I try to tell myself to enjoy the competition, enjoy the battle and I think I was able to do that. I'm still living my dream, and it's amazing.

VENUS WILLIAMS, the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, on her passion for the sport at the age of 37.

It has been nine years since Williams celebrated the last of her seven Grand Slam singles titles and 16 since she was last the US Open champion and she clearly remains as hungry for trophies as ever.

"I'm so fortunate to have won that match. It came down to the wire," added the world No. 9, who will return to the top five for the first time since January 2011, a span that saw her diagnosed with the energy-sapping disease known as Sjogren's Syndrome.

"I try to tell myself to enjoy the competition, enjoy the battle and I think I was able to do that. I'm still living my dream, and it's amazing."

It did not always seem like it on Tuesday, particularly during a fluctuating second set when Williams was unable to put away her 13th-seeded opponent, who had beaten her four times in five previous meetings.

Kvitova is improbably back in the Grand Slam mix after a horrific home invasion and knife attack last December that left her with deep, career-threatening wounds in her primary-playing left hand.

The Czech showed no signs of rust as the clash went toe-to-toe, winner-to-winner and unforced-error-to-unforced-error. And for the sixth time in their six encounters it went the full three-set distance.

But only Williams, the No. 9 seed, will get to keep riding the wave in New York. Her victory earned her a semi-final date today (tomorrow morning, Singapore time) with compatriot Sloane Stephens.

The unseeded 24-year-old edged past Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4).

Kvitova - whose 35 winners were cancelled out by 45 unforced errors - admitted that she might never be a Grand Slam champion again, but was optimistic about being able to play at the highest level possible.

It was just her eighth tournament following her five-month absence to recover from her injuries.

"I'm glad that I am still able to compete against the top players," said the 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon champion. "I'm not sure about the titles of the Grand Slams. Of course that's why I'm playing tennis, and that's why I wanted to be back and playing, and is a big motivation.

"But I'm still on the earth, and I know it's still a lot of work. This was a quarter-final, but I know how tough it is to get a title for a Grand Slam. It was pretty close but pretty far, as well."

NYTIMES, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2017, with the headline 'Venus relishes sporting chance'. Print Edition | Subscribe