Venus Williams Enthused To 'Live To Fight Another Day'
NEW YORK -- When Venus Williams has played at her best in a career resulting in seven Grand Slam singles titles; when she floated atop the balls of her feet like a 6-foot-1 woman has no right to do; and when she's served as well as anyone in the game, third sets have seldom been necessary.
It may not have come quite as easily as it once did in a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Timea Bacsinszky Wednesday night. Those days may be irretrievable at this point. But it was close enough to send Williams to the third round of the US Open for the first time since 2010, and it was good enough for the two-time Open champion.
"I'm happy," Williams said. "I won a match again. Finally I did something I couldn't do the last couple years. That's good stuff."
Williams, 34, benefited from playing in the 75-degree night session after a day in which the temperatures hovered in the low 90s and the heat rule was in effect, allowing players to take a break after the second set.
She also benefited from holding serve throughout while breaking her opponent three times and keeping her first serves consistently over 110 mph. But the competitiveness of her opponent, who returned to the game last spring after a two-year retirement, also helped.
"I feel like I'm playing well," she said. "I feel like I play my best when my opponent pushes me really. Once we start to really get into a slugfest, I feel like I really relax. Sometimes I feel like when they aren't pushing me as much, maybe I'm a little too passive at times. I don't know. But I do feel like, you know, when things get tight, I feel like I can rely on myself to compete really well. So that's a good feeling."
Bacsinszky said she thought her chances would improve if she could force a third set against Williams, who relies on conserving her energy since the diagnosis three years ago of an autoimmune disorder that causes extreme fatigue.
"But like we say in French, 'If we can put Paris in a bottle ...' You just don't know," Bacsinszky said.
The last couple years I fought really hard and I really played red-hot opponents. So it wasn't like I didn't try.Venus Williams
Williams, 34, plays No. 13 seed Sara Errani next in a third-round match. But before that, she plays a first-round doubles match with sister Serena Thursday, a scenario about which Venus' coach, David Witt, has not been shy expressing his reservations.
"To me, [it] doesn't help," Witt said on Wednesday night's ESPN telecast. "That's what she wants to do but that's why it's even more important to get on and off singles quick."
Venus has made it clear that playing doubles is non-negotiable.
"I don't think that's wise, because the doubles is a title," she said the other day. "When they say your name and they say so-and-so has X number of titles, guess what? Those doubles ones feel real good. For me the doubles is very serious. It's not, 'Oh, let's play for fun.' Those are Grand Slam titles that I am trying to win."
Back in the top 20 for the first time since early last year, Williams has not made it past the fourth round of a major in four years. But the fact that she hasn't won here in 13 years and hasn't been past the second round since 2010, when she reached the semifinals, was not always an indication of how she played.
"The last couple years I fought really hard and I really played red-hot opponents," she said. "So it wasn't like I didn't try. My opponents, they played so well. Sometimes you don't win 'em. That's why you get up and you live to fight another day. So that's really what it's about for me."