“I may not have won many tournaments but I came close to winning a couple of big ones last year,” Venus Williams admitted to the press before the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships began last week. “Obviously, I go into each tournament wanting to win. And I am aware that I haven’t won a Grand Slam tournament, apart from Wimbledon, for some time.” (via AP)
Venus definitely had an edge this week, even before she made it to the final. She just really seemed to want to retain the Dubai title that she won last year – her determination and poise reminded me of her usual Wimbledon swagger (she’s won five Wimbledon’s titles in her career but no other majors since 2001.) She didn’t lose a set all week, displaying a surplus of confidence both in her 6-1, 6-4 win vs. a red hot Shahar Peer in the semis and while beating an equally game Victoria Azarenka, 6-3, 7-5, in Saturday’s high-quality final. To cap it off, it’s V’s 42nd WTA tour singles title – the most of any active player on tour – though Justine Henin is right behind her with 41.
Venus spoke in some detail after the match about Shahar Peer’s first-time appearance in Dubai:
“I know that in this part of the world they love having sport events. I know that Dubai wants to be the sporting capital of the world,” Williams said.
“With the spirit (it has), obviously more events can come here. So it really brings a better future to this area of the world, especially in sports,” she added.
“So it’s great to be on that road because they put on such a great event that it’s wonderful to be able to see this grow. I definitely think her playing here has an influence on things outside of tennis. It’s definitely a step in the right direction. I think we need, obviously, government to do what they did here, the right thing. And obviously courageous people like Shahar to have the courage to come and play and play so well with focus. So I think, on both ends, it’s going in the right direction.” (via tournament website)
There’s a whole lot of reasons for Venus and her fans to feel good right now.
Maria beat a Swede in IKEA colorways. Photo by Reuters via Daylife.
Speaking of feeling good, Maria Sharapova roared back from her disastrous first round loss at the Australian Open last month by winning her very next tournament. She got that much needed boost of confidence in the final of the Cellular South Cup in Memphis on Saturday, where she beat qualifier Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden 6-2, 6-1. Like Venus, she didn’t lose a set all week, though the field wasn’t as deep as it was in Dubai. (And the prize money wasn’t even close – Maria takes home $37,000 a.k.a. Dolce-sitter money, Venus a whopping $350,000.) But a title’s a title and this is Sharapova’s 21st. Let’s hope the victory is a sign that she can get closer than halfway to Venus’s grand total.
In the third WTA tournament of the weekend, Angelique Kerber will play Mariana Duque Marino in Sunday’s final in Bogota.