Don’t count out Venus Williams just yet. At a point in her career where other greats faded, the older sibling in the Williams tennis tandem has made a triumphant return to the world’s top 10 rankings after a win this weekend.
Williams received the WTA Elite Trophy on Saturday in Zhuhai, China in a tough win over Karolina Pliskova, vaulting her into the top 10 for the first time in four years. At 35 years of age, most tennis analysts have pegged that Williams’ career would be on a decline but after a strong showing in Wimbledon this year and three WTA wins to her credit this year, it’s hard to deny the resurgence of Venus.
WTA Tennis reports:
The final was a hard-fought, hard-hitting affair, with Williams coming out sharper – she raced out to an early 4-1 lead – but Pliskova closing in to 4-all before Williams snuck out the opening set, 7-5.
The second set script was flipped. This time it was Pliskova who had the leads, going up 4-2 and, after Williams got the set back on serve, going up 4-2 in the ensuing tie-break. The Czech even brought up a set point at 6-5 in the breaker, ripping an inside out forehand that barely missed the sideline.
But like she’s done so many times on the biggest stages all around the world, the No.1-seeded Williams lifted her game one last time to finally close out the No.3-seeded Pliskova, rifling back-to-back forehand winners – including a huge passing shot on match point – to finish her off, 7-5, 7-6(6).
“Seven weeks here in Asia and now I feel like it’s my home!” Williams said afterwards. “I’m so excited to win the first trophy in Zhuhai. All the players felt so welcome here and we appreciated all of the enthusiasm. To see every seat filled for every match, that’s all the players and tournament hope for.
“Also congratulations to Karolina. She deserved to win too – I was really lucky to win at the end.”
Pliskova was gracious in her loss, saying that Williams played “unbelievable” and hopes to face her again.
Also of note, Williams has won 41 matches this year. It is the highest number of match wins she’s amassed since winning 50 in 2007. With the win, Williams will be ranked seventh in the WTA world rankings and is the oldest player in the top 10 since Martina Navratilova did so in 1995.