Former Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport and celebrated coach and pundit Paul Annacone have marveled at Venus Williams’ motivation to stay on Tour and compete for titles even at 40.
Speaking to Tennis Channel, Annacone, who coached Federer and the legendary Pete Sampras to 8 and 7 Grand Slam titles respectively, said that at her age, the key for Venus is to stay healthy, prioritize events and give herself the best chance of producing moments from where she can kick on and win titles.
“It’s so difficult to even guess now, but when you see 40 years of age, the keys really for Venus are how healthy can she stay and how does she schedule herself so she gets enough tennis where she’s comfortable at the biggest moments. We saw some terrific tennis last year from her as well… The thing is, can she do it over two weeks, seven matches now. That I don’t know, but like I always say, you wanna question greatness at your own peril,” Annacone said. “And when you’re that good, she didn’t win seven Majors just by being lucky, she knows what she needs to do. But can she do it over two weeks?”
Meanwhile, Davenport, who finished her career with three Grand Slam titles, said she has always been surprised why Venus hasn’t been able to win the singles crown at the Australian Open even once.
“It has always surprised me that Venus has not been able to win there (at Australian Open) and especially earlier in her career, in the late 90s and early 2000s, she was dominating on hard courts, just didn’t quite get over the hump there. She made two finals, 14 years apart, in 2003 and in 2017, but she’s never consistently if you look at her results there, she’s never brought out the best in her year in and year out,” Davenport said.
“Some players, they like a hard court, they’re gonna play well there. If you’re Venus, you look back just a few years ago, to 2017, a couple of Grand Slam finals, another semi-final, she was a huge factor, she almost lifted her eighth Grand Slam trophy,” Davenport said.
She said it won’t be easy for Venus to go into the Rod Laver Arena and clinching an eighth at 40 and added, “It’s got to get harder when you’re 40. Last year, (she played) seven tournaments (and) won one match. So, (she’s) gonna be looking to turn that around this season,” Davenport said.
Venus went out in the opening rounds of all three Majors last season.