Monday, December 16, 2019
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Venus Williams ready to be patient on comeback trail

Dubai: Former world number one Venus Williams is pleased with the progress she has been making in her gradual comeback on the WTA Tour.

After being diagonised with Sjogren’s Syndrome in 2011, Venus adopted a vegan and raw food diet to help decrease inflammation in her body and reduce energy-sapping symptoms of the disease. The elder of the Williams sisters has also restricted the number of tournaments she enters, a decision that has seen her slip to No.44 in the rankings.

She made a strong comeback from the illness in 2012 as she improved her rankings from No.134 to No.24 by the end of the year. Among her honours during the course of the season were her 44th career title in Luxembourg, along with the women’s doubles title at Wimbledon and London Olympics with younger sister Serena.

Last year, however, did not go as well as the previous one as Venus struggled with a lower back injury — making her skip Wimbledon among other tournaments. She finished the season at No.49.

The 33-year-old began the new year by ending runner-up to Ana Ivanovic at the Auckland Open and then fell in the first round at the Australian Open. “I have to just keep playing and getting matches — there’s no other way to it, really,” Venus said after her 6-3, 6-2 win over Russian Elena Vesnina late on Monday.

“In moments where I’m controlling the match, I feel better. I feel like I’ve gotten a little rusty sometimes in those areas,” she admitted.

However, Venus is aware that she can reach the summit yet again if she sticks to her plan. “This is definitely a privilege, a privilege that I deserve as I have done the work to be here. I definitely don’t take any win for granted anymore. Not that I used to before. Of course I earned it, but now every win is even more special,” she said.

Dubai has been good for Venus who has made five previous appearances here. She won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010.

After her win over Vesnina, Venus has now won 11 matches in-a-row here, and 22 of 23 sets in that stretch, dropping just one set to sister Serena in the 2009 semi-finals.

No wonder, expectations for Venus are high.

“I expect to try to execute what I do in the practice. That’s kind of what I expect these days. If anyone can do that, you’re pretty much on top,” she said.

“That’s easier said than done, but that’s the kind of game I am looking for,” she added.