2015 is proving to be a very good year for Venus Williams. At 34, the defending champion took care of 17 year old Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-1, 6-2 on Monday in the first round of the Dubai Tennis Championship. This win is her sixteenth straight in the United Arab Emirates, having taken the title in 2009, 2010 and 2014. She skipped the event for three years while fighting a debilitating autoimmune disease known as Sjogren’s syndrome.
For those of us who remember the fierce teenager who changed the look and feel of American Women’s tennis almost 20 years ago, Venus’ story is beyond inspirational. The former number one is proving that anything is possible.
“I’m happy to be back, and get this win,” said a smiling Williams after the match. “At 34, I’m hitting a little bit harder than most people and playing some offense on the run and hitting the ball just as hard. When I was 17, I didn’t think about what the age was of someone across the net. All you think of is is I want to beat them.”
That competitiveness knows no age barrier and Venus, who is 11-1 for the year, is proving that she deserves to be back in the top 20, and is already at No. 11. On the court she is moving with ease and commanding her shots.
Her sister, World Number 1 Serena, had to withdraw from this week’s Dubai tournament due to illness, but Venus is ready to carry the Williams torch, although the heavy travel schedule had her flying from New Zealand, where she won the year’s first title; to the Australian Open, where she reached the quarter-finals; to Argentina for Fed Cup, where she also racked up two victories; to Dubai where the crowd showed its appreciation after her triumphant return.
“I’m a little discombobulated,” said Venus. “It’s definitely a lot. I usually don’t travel that much. But I’m happy. I love the shopping here. I’ll get some rest and be ready for the next round.”
Meanwhile her legions of fans across the world will be rooting for her to continue her quest to return to the top of women’s tennis and add to her impressive 46 career singles titles. This impressive win in Dubai is a strong start too say the least. “Queen V” as her fans affectionately refer to her is back.
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