2017 French Open player profile: Venus Williams

Seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Venus Williams returns to the French Open, where she made a solitary final in 2002. Clay is Williams' least favored surface but she is still going to be a threat at Roland Garros.

2017 French Open player profile: Venus Williams
The American has struggled at Roland Garros in the past few years but will be hoping to turn around her fortunes in 2017 (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski / Getty)

Former world number one Venus Williams continues to defy the odds. The 36-year-old American, who will turn 37 next month continues to play sublime tennis. Williams still has the hunger to play professional tennis, and she believes that she can still win Grand Slams.

Notable results to date

The seven-time Grand Slam champion has played a handful of tournaments in 2017. Williams suffers from Sjogren's Syndrome which is an energy-sapping condition, and you don't know, you're going to feel on the day. The world number 11 began her 2017 campaign at the ASB Classic in Auckland. She defeated Jade Lewis in the first round but withdrew from her scheduled second round encounter with Naomi Osaka. The veteran next travelled to the Australian Open, where she reached the final in 2003, and multiple quarterfinals since then.

She defeated Kateryna Kozlova, Stefanie Voegele, Ying-Ying Duan and Mona Barthel to reach her second quarterfinal in Melbourne in three years. In the quarterfinals, she dispatched Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and she dropped her first set of the tournament in the semifinals. Nevertheless, Williams came back from a set down to defeat her compatriot Coco Vandeweghe, 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-3. Competing in her first Australian Open final in 14 years, Williams was up against her sister Serena. The elder Williams sister lost the match, 6-4, 6-4. In the process, Serena returned to the world number one ranking and claimed an Open Era record, 23rd Grand Slam singles title.

Venus (left) competed in her first Grand Slam singles final since Wimbledon in 2009 when she lost to her sister (right) (Photo by Scott Barbour / Getty)
Venus (left) competed in her first Grand Slam singles final since Wimbledon in 2009 when she lost to her sister (right) (Photo by Scott Barbour / Getty)

Following a strong run into the Australian Open final, the American traveled to the Premier event in St.Petersburg. However, she lost her first-round match to eventual champion Kristina Mladenovic comprehensively, 6-3, 6-1. Williams returned to the North American hardcourt scene to compete in Indian Wells and Miami. The seven-time Grand Slam champion ended her boycott at the event in 2016, and she won her first match in 16 years when she defeated Jelena Jankovic. Williams recorded a straights sets win over Lucie Safarova, 6-4, 6-2.

In the fourth round, the American came back from a set down to defeat Peng Shuai. Unfortunately, Wiliams' run came to an end, when she lost to eventual BNP Paribas Open champion Elena Vesnina in three sets in the quarterfinals. Williams continued her sublime form on North American hard courts at the Miami Open. She recorded straight sets victories over Beatriz Haddad Maia, Patricia Maria Tig, and two-time Grand Slam champions Svetlana Kuznetsova and Angelique Kerber. The American's run came to a halt in the semifinals, when she lost to eventual champion Johanna Konta.
 

The former world number one was unable to win another title in Miami (Photo by Rob Foldy / Getty)
The former world number one was unable to win another title in Miami (Photo by Rob Foldy / Getty)

Clay Court results leading up to Roland Garros

Williams only opted to play in two clay court events leading up to the French Open. Clay is a physically demanding surface, and it takes a toll on the body. The American lost to Laura Siegemund in the second round of the Family Circle Cup in Charleston. Nevertheless, the 1999 Internazionali BNL d'Italia champion competed at the Foro Italico in Rome. She won her first clay court match of the year against three-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist Yaroslava Shvedova. Williams defeated Lesia Tsurenko, and Konta to reach the quarterfinals in Rome. The American's run in the Eternal City came to an end in the quarterfinals against French Open champion Garbine Muguruza. Muguruza won the match in three sets, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 to reach a second successive semifinal in the Italian capital.

The American has hardly played any clay court matches in 2017 but will still be a threat at Roland Garros (Photo by Michael Steele / Getty)
The American has hardly played any clay court matches in 2017 but will still be a threat at Roland Garros (Photo by Michael Steele / Getty)



 

Best French Open result

The former world number one has competed in 19 French Opens, and she reached the final once in 2002, losing to her sister Serena. Williams has reached the quarterfinals on four other occasions, and her record in Paris has been dismal in recent years. The quarterfinals in 2006 was the seven-time Grand Slam winner's last appearance in the last eight in Paris.

The American's route to her solitary final in the French capital in 2002 as the second seed was a good one, as she dropped no sets en route to the final. Williams cruised past Bianka Lamade, Wynne Prakusya, Rita Grande and Chanda Rubin to reach her third French Open quarterfinal in three years. The seven-time Grand Slam champion dispatched Monica Seles in the quarterfinals and Clarisa Fernandez in the semifinals to reach her maiden French Open final. Aforementioned, Williams lost to Serena in straight sets in the final. It was the first step to the "Serena Slam" and their first of four consecutive meetings in Slam finals.

Williams (right) reached her solitary French Open final in 2002 losing to Serena (left) in straight sets (Photo by Andre Durand / Getty)
Williams (right) reached her solitary French Open final in 2002 losing to Serena (left) in straight sets (Photo by Andre Durand / Getty)

Williams struggled at the French Open in recent years losing in the first and two rounds from 2012-2015. However, the American reached the second week of the French Open for the first time since 2010. The current world number 11 defeated Anett Kontaveit, Louisa Chirico and Alize Cornet in the first three rounds. Williams had her thigh strapped, and lost to 2015 French Open semifinalist Timea Bacsinszky, 6-2, 6-4 in the fourth round.

The 36-year-old has won two doubles titles with Serena at the French Open in 1999 and 2010, and she won a mixed doubles title in 1998 with compatriot Justin Gimbelstob. The Americans defeated Serena and her Argentine partner Luis Lobo in the final.

 

How Williams' game translates to this surface

The former world number one is a powerful baseliner, who's game is attacking, which works on all surfaces. However, her serve is a powerful weapon on clay but doesn't get as much trajectory, as it does on a fast hard court or grass. Moreover, Williams is an established doubles player, and she knows her way around a clay court. She may not be considered as one of the favorites for the French Open but she is still a formidable player and could go on a long run to lift the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen.


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