Eight appearances in the final and walking away with the title on more than half of those infamous trips, Venus Williams is without a doubt her generations greatest grass court player and possibly the most reveered as well. If I, or anyone for that matter, were to sit around and stack up all the accomplishments of this legendary tennis player then we'd be here all day, even if you just consider her Wimbledon accomplishments. With those five title runs and three runner up finishes, there's also the five doubles crowns to mention (all with her younger sister Serena Williams). Don't forget about her runner up finish in the 2006 mixed doubles Wimbledon, and I'm sure everyone remembers her capturing the gold medal in doubles at the London Olympics which were held at SW19. Always seeming to find her best and most formidible game, Venus surely turns it up when she walks onto the lush lawns of Wimbledon, her favorite tournament.
With all that being said, Venus has stated many times that her favorite day to play tennis is the first Tuesday when the defending women's champion opens play on Centre Court; she's held that prestigious honor on five occassions and being that the defending champion Marion Bartoli will not be returning to open things up on that most coveted Tuesday, I propose that the Lawn Tennis Association give Venus Williams the honor of opening things. I mean, let's be honest, you cannot really argue with her credentials and although her game and results have considerably decreased, she's still out there battling and giving it her all. And maybe that's why she should be given that Tuesday honor, because after all that she's been through, she's still out there.
It hasn't been easy on the elder Williams sister throughout her career; she's had to deal with a plethora of situations stemming from racism to rumours of fixed matches against her sisters and now with illness, it hasn't been an easy decade and a half for Miss V. Williams. But even after all of that she's been through, she's still playing her heart out; playing for whatever she feels is important, whether it be money, pride, or even for the love of the game, she's still out there.
I've gotten the opportunity to meet Venus a few times and I've even asked her about this same topic at the Sony Open in Key Biscayne after her second match. When I asked her who she thought should open play or if she would campaign to get the honor, she simply chuckled and said "Wow, I've got a match tomorrow to think about, but it is my favorite day to play and whoever they pick to open that day deserves it. You're way ahead of the schedule." Ever so classy and graceful. To be honest, when it's all said and done and the sun unfortunately sets on Venus' tennis career, I think above anything she'll be remembered for her grace. Through all the titles she's won and acheivements, her classiness and grace is what has touched the hearts of the tennis world all these years and it will be sorely missed once it's gone.
To close the door on Venus Williams wouldn't be a wise thing to do; she's a champion and a champion knows how to win against all odds. I do remember in 2005 and even 2007 that everyone wrote off Venus as having no chance of capturing another major, that the game had passed her by, that her best tennis was behind her, but she kept her head down and her mouth shut and let her racquet do the talking.
The defending champion not returning the following year has never happened at Wimbledon on the women's side and it's only happened once at Wimbledon in general and that was in 2009 on the men's side when Rafael Nadal missed his title defense due to injury. When that happened in 2009, the honor of opening play on Monday went to Roger Federer who was the finalist the prior year and the previous champion before the finals loss to Nadal. Sabine Lisicki was the losing finalist last year and Serena was the previous champion before Bartoli won last year, so obviously it's a precarious situation. But if I had a say or a voice, I would plead for the honor to go to Venus; give the legend the opportunity to shine brightly once again on her favorite day!
So that is my plea, or my campaign for that matter; Venus Williams to open play Tuesday, if anyone deserves it, it's her! And need I mention that the Wimbledon women's trophy is named the Venus Rosewater Dish, how appropriate, huh?