Australian Open – Venus tries to beat the Melbourne heat
Her mantel may be full of Grand Slam trophies and Olympic gold medals, but one laurel that has eluded Venus Williams over her long and storied career is an Australian Open singles title.
And she’ll get a chance to change that beginning Sunday, Jan. 13, on ESPN2, when Williams takes to the Plexicushion courts of Melbourne Park to compete in the tennis year’s first Grand Slam tournament. And she’ll need to shake off her offseason cobwebs very early on if she’s to expect to stand up to the blazing heat of the Australian summer and competition from the likes of sister and seven-time champ Serena Williams, 2018 winner Caroline Wozniacki, 2018 finalist Simona Halep and up-and-coming Aussie star Ashleigh Barty.
While she’s had success in doubles in Melbourne, winning four titles, a singles title has proved elusive for the 38-year-old native of Southern California. She’s come close twice, making it to the finals in 2003 and 2017 before losing to her sister both times.
She comes into the new year off a disappointing 2018, a year that saw her put up a 17-11 record with no titles while slipping to world No. 38, thus putting an end to her run of four consecutive top-20 finishes. Injuries were thought to play a role in her decline but one can’t help but wonder if age was a factor as well. In any case, she recently parted ways with her coach, David Witt, after 11 years.
Might 2019 be the last hurrah for Venus Williams? A long run to the finals at Melbourne would certainly put any rumors of retirement to rest – at least in the short term.
Full name: Venus Ebony Starr Williams
Birth date: June 17, 1980
Birthplace: Lynwood, Calif.
Height/weight: 6 feet, 1 inch/165 pounds
Residence: Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Family ties: Is the daughter of tennis coaches Richard Williams and Oracene Price; has six siblings, including 23-time Grand Slam champ Serena
Career singles record: 792-233
Honors and achievements: five-time Wimbledon champion (2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008); two-time U.S. Open champion (1999, 2009); in doubles, won titles in the Australian (2001, 2003, 2009, 2010), French (1999, 2010), and U.S. Opens (1999, 2009) and Wimbledon (2000, 2002, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2016); in mixed doubles, has titles in the 1998 Australian and French Opens; Olympic gold medals in singles (2000) and doubles (2000, 2008, 2012)