Venus Williams: One of the best ever


Venus Ebony Starr Williams was born in Lynnwood, California in 1980 to Richard Williams and Oracene Price and was introduced to tennis by her father at an early age, drawing attention from coaches when she was 7 years old.

At age 11 the family moved to West Palm Beach, Florida so she and her sister Serena could attend the tennis academy headed by Rick Macci. But there was tension between Macci and Richard Williams, and after a year Venus left the academy and from then on was more or less coached by her father.

She was a dominant junior player and at age 14 played her first professional match in Oakland in 1994, making it to the second round before losing to Aranta Sanchez Vicario.

She played in three tournaments in 1995 and got to the quarterfinals of the tournament in Oakland. In 1997 she qualified for the U.S. Open and became the first player ever to reach the finals in her first Grand Slam Tournament. She was just 17 years old.

At 6 feet 1 inches tall and with a long wingspan and a 129 mph serve, she is always tough to beat.

In 1998 she won her first Grand Slam titles – in mixed doubles – at the Australian and French Opens.

In 1999 she won in doubles at the French Open and U.S. Opens and in 2000 won her first singles Grand Slam event at Wimbledon and followed that up with a win in the U.S. Open.

She also won doubles in 2000 at Wimbledon and the Olympic Gold at Sydney in singles and doubles. If she had retired then at the age of 20 she would have been better than 98 percent of the professional players who have ever played the game of tennis.

In 2001 she successfully defended her singles titles at Wimbledon and at the U.S. Open and won a doubles title in the Australian Open.

But as her younger sister Serena emerged as a player, Venus’ number of titles declined.

At age 21 she won four singles GS titles but would get only three more in the next 15 years. She would have more success with Serena in doubles as together they won all 14 doubles finals they entered.

They also won the Gold Medal at Beijing and London in doubles, and Venus got a silver in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro for a total of five Olympic medals.

At age 38 she is playing well and last year got to the finals of the Australian Open and at Wimbledon.

She has five Wimbledon singles titles, placing her in fourth place of those playing in the modern era behind Martina Navratilova (nine) and Serena (seven) and Steffi Graf (seven). But if you add in Billie Jean King (six) who had two (1966, 1967) before the modern era started in 1968, she would be fifth.

After 1968 Grand Slam tournaments were open to both amateur and professional players.

Also a successful entrepreneur, she has a prosperous clothing company and is estimated to be worth $89 million.

While she has enjoyed great success, she has also endured tragedy as her older sister, Yutende Price, who served as personal assistant to both Serena and Venus, was killed in a drive by shooting in Compton, California, the area where the family grew up.

Venus also was involved in an automobile accident in which someone in another car was fatally injured.

But at 39 years old and the winner of 49 tournament titles (she trails only her sister with 72), she is still playing well as she made it to the Australian Open and Wimbledon finals in 2017.

Against her sister in Grand Slam finals she is 5-10, and one can only speculate on how many titles she would have won if she had not her sister to compete against.

By Ron Griffitts

Contributing columnist

Ron Griffitts is a contributing columnist for The Daily Advocate.

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