We need more people in tennis like Venus Williams — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, June 20, 2023

Howdy, y’all and Happy Tennis Tuesday! The grass season is underway and while I admit it’s been a bit of a slow news week, that completely changed yesterday — to me at least.

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Venus Williams is 43 years old, ranked No. 697 and last week in her return from a January hamstring tear, fell to a player who was born while she was en route to winning the 2005 Wimbledon title. Yesterday, thanks to a wildcard, she participated in the Rothesay Classic against Camila Giorgi.

While Venus held a 2-0 record against the Italian, she hadn’t had a Top 50 win since 2019 — of course because she’s been out much of that time due to COVID or her own injuries. In a time where we no longer have Serena Williams and Roger Federer, Venus is basically our last connection from the “last generation” that has fueled the current crop of talent.

Sporting a knee brace, Venus took a tumble on the Birmingham grass, which seemed to halt the progress she was making when leading:

Now, it’s one thing to fall, but Giorgi appeared to cheer when the point was over and the look Venus gave? That’s one thing I’m not trying to see when I serve.

Though she was limping throughout the match, the 5-time Wimbledon champion never wavered and fought through a 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(6) win over the Italian. Grass court matches have been historically known for their short points and matches. This first-round encounter went over three hours, which makes the win even more impressive.

Venus’ reaction to the win was perhaps one of her greatest ever. I loved seeing Tennis Twitter rally behind the future Hall of Famer. We get caught up in who’s dominating a tournament, or who has captured the most Grand Slams, or trying to figure out what defines a GOAT. In a sport that continues to put women like Venus in the “has-been” box, it’s refreshing to see a player simply playing because she loves the game. While it might’ve been about chasing Slams and records earlier in her career, that’s not the case now.

Venus Williams loves tennis and she’d be fine never winning a set on the WTA Tour again. It won’t stop her from competing and testing herself against the competition. You really have to respect that. Many players nowadays seem to play matches and tournaments just to do so. You don’t see that with Venus. She fully embodies why tennis is so fun and a lifelong sport. It doesn’t matter your level or if your prime was over a decade ago, you can still show up, play, and learn from it. There isn’t a ceiling or maximum potential you can hit

Even at 43, Venus is a breath of fresh air for the game of women’s tennis and I can’t wait to see how long she continues. She doesn’t have to prove herself to anyone and who knows how much longer we’ll be able to witness her greatness on court. Take advantage of it now!

Now, onto links!

This Week in Women’s Tennis

Former World No. 2 and 2021 WTA Finals runner-up Anett Kontaveit announced that due to her chronic back injury, she will be retiring at Wimbledon:

This week’s must-read comes from our friend Lindsay Gibbs, who discussed the blatant sexism in professional tennis.

The British were coming last week at the Rothesay Open in Nottingham, where three players made the semifinals and the WTA had their first all-Brit final since 1977. Katie Boulter fulfilled her lifelong dream by capturing her first WTA title at her home tournament, defeating Jodie Burrage in straight sets. The doubles title went to Ulrikke Eikeri and Ingrid Neel, who defeated Harriet Dart and Heather Watson. Eikeri also had a shot I don’t think we’ve ever seen on tour:

Ekaterina Alexandrova defended her Libema Open singles crown from 2022 with a final-set tiebreak over Veronika Kudermetova. Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara downed Viktoria Hruncakova and Tereza Mihalikova to take home the doubles title.

Mayar Sherif won her second consecutive WTA 125 title, this time at the BBVA Open Internacional de Valencia. It was the sixth WTA 125 for the Egyption, who became the highest-ranked Egyptian player of all time with the win. In doubles, Aliona Bolsova and Andrea Gamiz won their third WTA 125 as a duo.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the WTA tomorrow, Billie Jean King reflected on the meeting that snowballed what we know as the premier women’s sport league in the world.

The LIV/PGA merge sent shockwaves through the golf world, but don’t be surprised if the Saudi Arabian money will make it’s way into tennis sooner than later.

Martina Navratilova shared she was cancer-free after her breast cancer reappeared on top of new cancer found in her throat earlier this year.

Emma Raducanu opened up about her challenges since winning the US Open and admits that some days, she wishes she’d never captured the title that thrusted her into the spotlight.

In bullshit of the week, Miyu Kato’s appeal to get her ranking points and prize money following her default at Roland Garros was denied:

Prize money at Wimbledon was announced, with an 11% increase from 2022’s amount.

Halfway through the tennis season, Joel Drucker gives us his five thoughts on where the women’s game is.

Just after winning her third Roland Garros title, Iga Swiatek gave the keynote speech at the high school graduation at Rafael Nadal’s academy.

Alex Eala knows she’s got quite a long way to go professionally, even though many hype her up as a potential Grand Slam champion.

I’m sure you’ll see more Russian players defecting in light of visa issues, but former NCAA No. 1 Daria Frayman appears to be the next:

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Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon