37-year-old Venus Williams has shown no signs of slowing down this season as she’s booked a spot at the WTA Finals in Singapore. It’ll be her first appearance in the prestigious event since the 2009 season, when she lost to her sister Serena in the final in Doha.
Coming in to the season it was no secret that things would be more wide open than usual with the absence of Maria Sharapova for half the season, and the uncertainty of when Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova would be back. What nobody knew coming in was that Serena Williams would also be out of action after winning the Australian Open in January. Not having four of the WTA’s biggest stars playing weekly meant someone would take advantage, and Venus Williams certainly did that.
Most of her success this season has come at the Slams, which is obviously where the most points are up for grabs. It was clear early in the season that Venus Williams was in vintage form after reaching the Australian Open final dropping only one set en route before falling to sister Serena in the final.
The French Open was always going to be tough for her as clay isn’t her preferred surface. Many even suggested that she’d follow what Roger Federer did and skip the French Open to get ready for the grass season. She managed to win three matches on the red clay at Roland Garros before losing to Timea Bacsinszky in the Round of 16.
Wimbledon was always going to be looked at as her best chance to win her first Slam since 2008. As a five time champion previously, it’s no secret that she plays her best tennis on grass. Williams rolled through to the finals where she faced Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, who has a knack for playing her best in big time matches. Williams had her chances–including two unconverted set points in the first set–before falling 7-5 6-0. Like the Australian Open, just seeing her reach the final and playing at a high level was satisfying.
At the US Open, Venus had another great run, reaching the semifinals before falling to fellow American and eventual champion Sloane Stephens. Once again she had her chances, but just couldn’t take the next step to get her hands on another Grand Slam trophy.
Overall, it’s been a successful season for Venus Williams to date. I don’t think anyone expected her to be in this position again, competing with the top players on a weekly basis, after her 2011 diagnosis with Sjogren’s Syndrome. The WTA finals will once again be an opportunity for her to show that she belongs with the top players in 2017.
Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina, and Caroline Wozniacki have all also qualified so far. Two spots remain open in the eight-player field.