During the summer of 1997, the United Kingdom handed over sovereignty of Hong Kong to China, “Men in Black” was at the top of the box office charts, and Harry Potter made his shaky debut at Hogwarts.
In addition, this was the year that Venus Williams, then only 17 years old and wearing white beads in her hair, made her first appearance at Wimbledon.
Her initial run in the competition was cut short rather abruptly as she was defeated by Magdalena Grzybowska of Poland in the first round of competition.
Now, fast forward another 26 years, and the tennis veteran is getting ready to compete at the All England Club for the 24th time, despite the fact that she is 43 years old.
She has won the title of champion five times: in the years 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008, including the title match against her sister Serena.
She has also finished in second place four times, losing to Serena Williams in 2002, 2003, and 2009, and then losing to Garbine Muguruza of Spain in 2017, when she was 37 years old.
Williams, who was once ranked number one in the world but is currently placed 554th, claims that she does not currently intend to retire as Serena has.
She would rather go at her own pace and follow the beat of her own drum.
The American player, who had competed in the tournament for the final time in 2021, was quoted as saying at the time, “I don’t think anyone in life has anything to prove.”
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As a result of Williams’s participation in the competition throughout the course of four separate decades, she is able to boast victories on the illustrious lawns of south-west London over former Grand Slam champions such as Martina Hingis, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, and Maria Sharapova, all of whom have since retired.
Her win-loss record of 90-18 is comprised of several noteworthy breakthrough performances.
Avenging her defeat at the hands of the Russian youngster in the previous year’s championship match, Serena Williams defeated Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals of the 2005 tournament.
A few days later, she won the match by defeating Lindsay Davenport in a dramatic final that lasted two hours and 45 minutes and featured Williams surviving a match point. The final score was 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 9-7.
Williams’s victory against Serena in the major championship final in 2008 marked just her second victory in seven matches against her sister in the championship decider at a major tournament.
“You could never detract from winning Wimbledon,” remarked Williams after she collected her fifth and final title in London. “But I’m definitely thinking about how my sister’s feeling,” she said.
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The American, on the other hand, has not been seen at any tennis court for quite some time.
After tearing her hamstring in Auckland in January, she was unable to return to competition for a period of six months.
She made her return to the sport earlier this month, but she was defeated by Celine Naef, who is only 17 years old, in the first round of the’s-Hertogenbosch tournament.
She then rebounded in Birmingham, where she defeated Camila Giorgi in a match that lasted three hours and 17 minutes.
It was her first victory over a player ranked in the top 50 in the past four years. With this victory, she joined Martina Navratilova and Kimiko Date as the only other women in this century to win a tour-level match at the age of 43 or older.
She will be returning to Wimbledon, but she has not clouded her judgment over the reason she continues to compete.
“W-I-N is spelled with three letters. That sums it up nicely. “Extremely straightforward,” was her explanation.