Tennis: Venus reveals No. 1 goal
(CNN) — When Venus Williams was knocked off the top of the women’s tennis world rankings by younger sister Serena in July 2002, she couldn’t have imagined that over a decade later she would still be waiting for a return to the summit.
Despite winning three further Wimbledon singles titles since last being No. 1, the American has endured a 10-year spell blighted by losses of form and fitness — culminating in being diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome at last year’s U.S. Open.
But the 32-year-old is on the comeback trail, setting her sights on a return to the top of the world — plus singles and doubles glory at Flushing Meadows — after Thursday’s third-round win over French Open runner-up Sara Errani at the Cincinnati Masters.
Serena Williams battles ‘super crazy hair’
“Before all my injuries and illnesses I was No. 2 in the world and Serena was No. 1, and we were No. 1 in doubles,” the seven-time grand slam winner, now ranked 64th, told reporters.
Venus Williams’ passion for fashion
Venus Williams has remained in the public eye despite her health problems, appearing at Vanity Fair’s Oscars party in West Hollywood in February.
She began her glittering professional tennis career in 1994, at the tender age of 14.
In 1997, Williams became the first woman since Pam Shriver in 1978 to reach the final of her debut U.S. Open. She lost the showpiece match at Flushing Meadows 6-0 6-4 to Switzerland’s Martina Hingis.
Williams won her first grand slam women’s doubles title alongside younger sister Serena at the 1999 French Open. Venus claimed two mixed doubles titles in 1998, winning at the Australian Open and Roland Garros with compatriot Justin Gimelstob.
Williams’ first grand slam singles title arrived in 2000, when she defeated Hingis after beating Serena in the semifinals. She claimed that year’s doubles crown at the All England Club alongside Serena.
It proved to be a landmark year for Williams. She won gold in the women’s singles at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, as well as the doubles title with Serena. She then secured her first U.S. Open title by beating compatriot Lindsay Davenport.
Williams retained her U.S. title in 2001 by beating Serena in the first grand slam final to be played between two sisters in the post-1968 Open era.
The Williams sisters met again in the Wimbeldon final of 2008, with Venus trumping her younger sibling once more. It remains the last grand singles won by Venus. The sisters have faced off on 23 occasions, with Serena leading 13-10. She also holds the edge in their grand slam final meetings by 6-2.
Williams has not played on the WTA Tour since pulling out of the U.S. Open in late August 2011, having been diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome. She did manage to beat Vesna Dolonts in the first round at Flushing Meadows, but withdrew ahead of her second-round clash with Sabine Lisicki.
As part of her bid to return to the WTA Tour, WIlliams played an exhibition match against Serena — who has overcome health problems of her own — in Colombia in November. Venus won 6-4 7-6 (7-4).
Venus Williams’ career
Serena Williams displays her “super crazy” hairstyle before her Cincinnati opener against Elena Daniilidou.
The American had her tresses in control for the start of the second-round match against the Greek qualifier.
But despite using what she called “an ’80s scrunchie,” Williams’ hair soon fought its way free in the windy conditions.
It didn’t stop her winning, but the in-form American was frustrated after making 44 unforced errors — which she said was “unprofessional.”
Williams has now won 35 of her last 36 singles matches, having claimed the Olympic women’s title for the first time as well as defending her doubles crown with older sister Venus.
Venus also won her opening match in Cincinnati, beating Olympic semifinalist Maria Kirilenko of Russia as she kept her trademark long braids safely tied up.
Serena Williams battles ‘crazy hair’
Betty Robinson made history in 1928 by becoming the first woman to clinch Olympic track and field gold. Her achievement has paved the way for her fellow U.S. female athletes to etch their names into Games folklore.
Robinson was lucky to survive a plane crash in 1931, and the following year Mildred “Babe” Didrikson took over her mantle as the top U.S. woman athlete, winning gold in hurdles and javelin at the Los Angeles Olympics and silver in the high jump.
Wyomia Tyus became the first sprinter, male or female, to retain the 100m title at the Olympics when she triumphed in 1968, also winning gold in the 4x100m relay in Mexico. She is seen here winning the women’s 100m final at Tokyo ’64.
Florence Griffith-Joyner still holds the women’s world records for 100m and 200m, winning three gold medals and a silver at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. She died aged just 38, from a heart seizure while sleeping.
American tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams have won two gold medals together in women’s doubles. Their first came at Sydney 2000, where Venus also won the singles competition.
U.S. swimmer Amy Van Dyken overcame problems with asthma to win six gold medals during her Olympic career, with four of those coming at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
U.S. soccer star Mia Hamm inspired her side to gold in the women’s football in Atlanta in 1996 and at Athens 2004. The Americans also triumphed at Beijing 2008.
Sprinter Gail Devers overcame Graves’ disease to win three Olympic gold medals, including the women’s 100m in 1996 and 2000 as she emulated Tyus.
Mary Lou Retton became the first American woman to win gold in the individual all-around event in 1984, breaking eastern Europe’s stranglehold on the competition. She also won two silvers and two bronzes, becoming a national hero.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee won gold in both heptathlon and the long jump at Seoul in 1988. She then successfully defended her heptathlon title at Barcelona 1992.
Team USA’s top female Olympians
“We were literally on top of the world until a lot of things came crashing down on us. I’d like to work my way back. Of course that’s a dream for me.
“I dream of those things. That’s why I’m here, because I feel like I still have it. It’s one match at a time, pretty much.”
Williams’ reward is a quarterfinal match against third seed Sam Stosur, the Australian who beat Serena in an ill-tempered 2011 U.S. Open final to claim her first grand slam title.
While Venus is trying to recapture her best form, younger sister Serena is the dominant force in women’s tennis.
The world No. 4 won a fifth Wimbledon title last month before returning to Centre Court to destroy Maria Sharapova in the Olympic women’s singles final at London 2012.
The 14-time major winner continued her imperious run of form by battling past a stubborn Urszula Radwanska 6-4 6-3.
After the match, Serena spoke of fondness for the Pole, whose older sister Agnieszka is top seed for the hard-court tournament and reached the last eight with a three-set win over American teenager Sloane Stephens.
“I think they’re both great players, and great sisters,” the 30-year-old said as she continued her quest for a first Cincinnati title. “I absolutely love seeing another pair of sisters doing so well on the tour.
“Urszula has worked really hard, and me being a younger sister and Urszula being a younger sister too, I’m always looking for her to do well and I hope she does really well.
“Her game is great. What’s best about her game is she’s like her sister — she doesn’t do anything badly. Those are always tough opponents to play.”
Serena’s next opponent is German fifth seed Angelique Kerber, who advanced courtesy of a 6-4 7-6 (7-5) defeat of Czech qualifier Andrea Hlavackova.
Also safely through is 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. After picking up her first title of 2012 in Montreal on Monday, the world No. 5 continued her winning run by beating China’s Peng Shuai 6-2 6-2.