A fortnight after turning 42, and a year on from her last competitive match, Venus Williams made a triumphant return to action on Friday.
Venus Williams revealed that she was “inspired” by sister Serena as she made a triumphant return to action in the Wimbledon mixed doubles alongside Jamie Murray.
The 42-year-old partnered Murray on Friday and rolled back the years with a 6-3 6-7 (7-3) 6-3 victory against Michael Venus and Alicja Rosolska in the first round. That match marked Williams’ first competitive action since last August’s Chicago Open, with many questioning whether she would ever return to the court. After showing some flashes of brilliance on Court One, Williams later revealed sibling Serena played a part in her decision to participate in this year’s event at SW19. Serena had herself returned from a year on the sidelines earlier in the week in the women’s singles, only to go down to Harmony Tan in a three-set thriller.
“It was definitely super last minute. I was just inspired by Serena,” Venus said. “It was amazing. I just was so happy to have so much help today. I’ve been trying to play with [Jamie] forever. He plays hard to get!” All-time great Williams, who made her Wimbledon debut 25 years ago, is a five-time All England Club singles champion and has won the women’s doubles on six occasions.
Into the Second Round
Williams and Murray will now face British wild cards Alicia Barnett and Jonny O’Mara in the second round, and the American says the fire is back in her belly. “I had no plan to play but I saw the grass and I got excited,” she said. “That’s why I was asking [Jamie] last minute. He just had a baby, too, so I know there’s a lot going on. I couldn’t have guessed that I would be here right now, taking it at the last minute. I haven’t played in a year, so you don’t know what you’re going to get. Practice is so much different from a match. It’s not easy physically or mentally or anything. Just at the last it was like, ‘Oh my God, wow.’ I just not only played a match but won a match. I’m never like that kind of player. I always expect to win. When I sat there, we wanted to win, but when I sat there at the end, it was real. Yeah, I felt something in my heart.”