North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

What’s wrong with Venus Williams?

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If it seems like an odd question to ask, that’s because it almost is, since she just won her first round match.

But, at the same time, it was a match that she was supposed to win and almost didn’t, even looking like she couldn’t at times. Williams was making unforced errors all throughout her match against Alla Kudryavtseva, and had to grind her way out of a 6-2, 2-0 hole early on.

And, by the end of match, it didn’t look so much as Williams won, but that Kudyavtseva lost it, in more ways then one.

About halfway through the third set, with the match tied 4-4, an unknown spectator yelled “Out” on a close shot. Kudryavtseva, believing it to have come from an official, stopped playing and allowed Williams to take a lead.

This was the beginning of the end for Kudryavtseva, whose frustration overcame her fantastic start to this match. By the end of the match, she was slamming her racket into the grass, and as the ESPN commentators noted, looked to be holding back tears.

It was a fitting end, however, to match that was simply electric. By it’s end, the stands were full, the restaurant reduced to standing room only, as everybody that could tried to get a view of court #2, watching to see what would happen.

So, then, what is wrong with Venus? In a match where she should have dominated – this was Kudryavtseva’s first Wimbledon match – she let herself get behind early and never dominated like she used to, despite ample chances.

Perhaps she’s getting too old. Tennis, especially women’s tennis, is a young persons game, and Venus turned 27 just a few days ago. Her opponent, on the other hand, just turned 19 this year. Can she keep up? She’s definitely past her prime; it’s been almost five years since she was ranked #1.

Perhaps we’re simply overrating her. Yes, she’s a three-time winner of Wimbledon, she hasn’t made it past the third round since 2005. In fact, she hasn’t won a tournament since then. Are we judging her on her past merits, not on her current play?

However old or overrated as she may be, she’s still a threat. She showed that by battling back against Kudryavtseva, forcing a third set and eventually overcoming her.

Still, this match showed both the good and the bad of her game. It showed that she still has the grit and determination of a winner, but it also showed that her play is getting increasingly sloppy, as she made unforced errors in the double digits in two of the three sets she played.

So, maybe nothing is wrong with her. For a player seeded #23 and who is 27 years old, she seems to be about right where she should be.

Just don’t expect her to win.

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Written by M.

June 26, 2007 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Tennis, Wimbledon

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