Great players always have the one last run in them.
No matter the sport, you see that one last goodbye where diminished returns come back to normal and the scar of years washes away.
We are seeing it with Roger Federer this year, after he missed most of 2016 with an injury and now we are seeing Venus Williams make a run at the US Open, as she’s into the Semifinals with a 6-3 3-6 7-6(2) win over Petra Kvitova.
“It definitely felt like a special match,” Williams said. “No easy moments, not easy to hold serve or break serve. This match meant a lot to me, obviously, playing at home and of course it being a major.”
Without her younger sister overshadowing her, Venus has become a star again, playing like it’s 2001, she is showing stamina in long matches, while using her veteran skills to make up for the missing step time takes away.
More importantly, it the class and dignity she displays on the court, which makes this run even more special.
At 37, Venus is the mother hen of the group of young American women. She will be facing Sloane Stephens in the Semifinals and both CoCo Vandeweghe and Madison Keys are playing tomorrow in the quarters.
But it’s more than the Fab Four, as the draw this year was filled with American women making their marks.
“It’s been a great two weeks for American tennis,” Williams said. “Seeing all American players in the draw and all of them advancing so deep and competing so well.
“All I have known all my life was great American players. So it’s great to see this resurgence, and I hope it can continue.”
Venus is a very graceful player now, she glides down the court and uses her smarts to make up for the loss of a step. She knows where the ball will be hit and makes adjustments depending on the opponent.
Today, she was able to do that to Kvitova, who beat Venus in the last few matches. The wily veteran was able to match her point for point in the third set and ultimately pull away in the tiebreaker.
“In the tiebreaker, you just want to create space, you know,” she said. “You want to create space. So when you see that gap opening bigger in your favor, it feels amazing.
“There is a point where you say, I’m not ever letting this go. That’s kind of what I felt like out there.”
And it felt like that to the crowd, all pro-Venus as they cheered her on. At the US Open, Venus Williams is the home court player.
She will be on Thursday too, when she faces Stephens. Although it may be mixed, Venus will be the one they are pulling for as she tries to get that one last slam.
“Regardless, whatever happens,” Venus said. “I have to focus on what’s happening on my side of the court. Make evaluations out there when I’m out there in terms of strategy and see what’s working.”
Spoken like a true veteran.