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Pro Tennis Showcase
March 22, 2012

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Sony Ericsson Open 2012, Miami/Key Biscayne, Florida, USA
March 22, 2012
Editorial by Jane Voigt.


Jane Voigt Photo
Jane Voigt

Venus Is Back
March 22, 2012 -- Venus Williams is ageless. Her date of birth boxes her into an age, she will be 32 in June, however she remains invincible to millions of fans even though she hasn't played a tournament since the U. S. Open last year. That's Venus!
On Wednesday at The Sony Ericsson Open she played that first match after that long spell. Reports called her game 'spirited.' Photographs taken after her victory over Kimiko Date-Krumm reveal a happy Venus.
"It was great to be back out there," Williams said, as reported on the Sony Ericsson Open's website. "It was definitely nerve racking especially when I know how talented she is and being the first match back."
Venus has won this title three times, and is appearing at the Crandon Park site for the 13th time. Will it be her lucky number 4?
Her real test comes Friday, as she plays Petra Kvitova, the #3 seed and current Wimbledon Champion. Both women can intimidate, Venus at six-foot-one, Kvitova also at six-foot-one. Perhaps Venus's five Wimbledon titles will seep inside Petra's head, and play games with her, well, game. We shall see.
The two women will reflect an image of a new champion -- Kvitova -- versus an older champion -- Venus.
She has continued to struggle with an autoimmune disease called Sjogren's Syndrome, during her absence. She only entered four tournaments last year while Kvitova skyrocketed to the top 3 in the world, with her title at Wimbledon and then the year-ending WTA Championships. Kvitova's early career seems to be traveling the same trajectory as Venus's.
Venus has seven Major titles and 43 WTA career singles titles. She won Olympic gold for singles and doubles, with Serena, in 2000. And another gold medal for doubles, again with little sister Serena, at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But in order to play Miami, the tournament had to grant her a wildcard. Her ranking had dropped to 143, the lowest since 1995, but currently sits at 103.
With the 2012 Olympic games coming up this summer in London, on the green lawns of Wimbledon that she loves so much, the thought of competing there has to be on Venus's mind. Whether she becomes part of the American team relies partly on what the U.S.T.A. decides. The process is complicated and other American players could overtake a spot that Venus has her eye on.
Yesterday, though, in her come-back win she seemed slimmer in her new newest tennis dress creation from her company, EleVen. Still, she cranked up her serve over 120 m.p.h. several times, dress or no dress. Her rhythm was off a bit, but she got the beat before too long.
Over her career, which began in 1994, Venus's game has developed from a strictly baseline one to an all-court possibility.
This expansion in style and strategy certainly grew, in some part, from winning 19 doubles titles, with sister Serena, and two mixed doubles titles: Roland Garros with Justin Gimelstob (1998) and The U. S. Open with Bob Bryan (2006).
The tennis history books will certainly remember Venus, as well as Serena, as the women that ushered in the power game to women's tennis. No one could hit like they did. Women were blown off the courts, unable to withstand the pace of their shots. They still remain that powerful and are still slotted to win majors every time their names appear in a draw.
Venus may not be the hottest projected winner in this tournament, given the tough section of the draw she landed in. There's Kvitova, of course, plus Daniela Hantuchova and Ana Ivanovic as possible opponent's.
Adversity can motivate. Take away those things we love, then get a second chance, and tables turn. A fresh sense of renewal can spur all types of miraculous performances. And Venus's outlook is a simple one.
"I don't go out with expectations of how I'm going to feel that day," she said, as reported on the tournament's website. "I just give my best on that day. That's how it is. I just do my best and give everything. So that's what it's all about for me."


Earlier Columns from this Event:
March 21, 2012 Sony Ericsson Open: Fernando Gonzalez Bids Farewell

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