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Wimbledon: Venus Williams starting to regain magic of golden grand slam spell

By Paul Newman

Five-time champion Venus Williams wants to play a greater supporting role in her sister act with Serena at Wimbledon after reaching the third round for the first time since 2011.

Williams is playing her way back to form after a back problem and she remains affected by the autoimmune condition Sjogren's syndrome, factors which have seen the 34-year-old struggle to make an impact at recent grand slams.

The 30th-seeded American overcame a scare on Court Three yesterday to see off the challenge of Kurumi Nara, winning through 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 to set up a tough assignment against 2011 champion Petra Kvitova.

Williams has her sights set on continued improvement at the All England Club, where Serena, fellow five-time champion and the world number one, appears the far likelier sister to claim a sixth singles title.

"I think we motivate each other. We want to see each other win," said Williams.

"I guess I haven't held up my end of the bargain. I tried, I just haven't had the luck I have wanted, but she has been doing very well and that has made me proud."

Williams feels she is slowly finding some of the old magic.

"For me it is definitely a step in the right direction. The thing that I just have to really work on is being on tour consistently and playing tournaments," said Williams, who last won the Wimbledon singles crown in 2008 and was runner-up to her sister a year later.

"Even leading up these last few months, I don't feel I played as many matches as I would have liked.

"The more you play, the more you get used to being down or up or serving things out. My whole goal is just to keep playing and stay as healthy as I can."

Nara had opened up with some aggressive tennis to lead 3-0, before Williams fought back and the first set was eventually decided on a tie-break in which the underdog led 4-1 before giving up six straight points.

Nara, the 22-year-old world number 41, was troubled by a thigh injury, and needed a medical time-out at the interval.

After an early break from both players in the second set, Williams began pulling out a range of passing shots to twice break again before closing out victory in just over an hour and 30 minutes.

"Walking out there I know that no one is going to give me a match – you don't get given a match, especially at the majors," Williams said.

"I knew all points I would have to work for."

Williams might have seven grand slam titles, 13 in doubles with her sister and three Olympic gold medals, but the American still has unfinished business.

"I don't like watching it on TV. I want to be out there. Life is a challenge," she said.

"For me, when I leave tennis, I want it to be on my own terms. I want to know that I rose to every challenge. I want to look back with no regrets."

Belfast Telegraph


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