Venus won't rule out playing till 50

LONDON: Venus Williams, 43, insists she's not ready to call time on her career, claiming on Saturday she is probably the only player able to keep competing until she's 50.

The American, a seven-time major winner, kicks off her 24th Wimbledon tomorrow, 26 years after her debut at the All England Club.

Brushing aside questions over whether she intends to follow younger sister Serena into retirement, Venus insists that even playing at 50 is not out of the question.

"It's never been done before. so if there is anyone who could do it, it would be me," said the five-time Wimbledon champion.

Martina Navratilova won the Wimbledon mixed doubles title with India's Leander Paes in 2003 at 46. Three years later, she retired at the US Open, just a few weeks before her 50th birthday.

"The Grand Slams mean the most to me," added Williams, a former world No. 1 one whose ranking has slipped to 554 in the world after spending most of 2023 battling a hamstring injury.

She added: "I'm not carrying a torch for anyone. My motivation is to keep going, just as I have always done. I have reached a level that few others reach in life or anything."

When she first played at Wimbledon in 1997, she was a first-round loser.

Back then, she wore white beads in her hair. This year, she has dyed her hair pink.

She was champion in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008 when she beat Serena in the final.

She is also a four-time runner-up, losing to Serena in 2002, 2003 and 2009 and then in 2017 to Spain's Garbine Muguruza when she was 37.

Williams has played only five matches since last year's US Open but enjoyed an impressive win over Camila Giorgi on grass in Birmingham last month.

Tomorrow, she will play her first match on Centre Court since 2017 when she tackles fellow wildcard recipient Elina Svitolina. — AFP

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