Tennis legend Martina Navratilova is amazed that Venus Williams is still playing tennis at the age of 40, saying that she thought she would be done with tennis by the time she turned 25 years old.
Martina Navratilova says Venus Williams is an iconic figure
In a column for the WTA Tour website, Navratilova says Williams is worked hard not only on the court but also off the court to help the cause of equality.
"I'm amazed that Venus is still playing on the WTA Tour at the age of 40, especially when you consider she has also been dealing with Sjögren's syndrome, an auto-immune disease that can sap your energy. That significant birthday is the occasion to pause and recognise that Venus's impact goes way beyond the tennis court.
Her greatest impact has been socially, politically and culturally. As well as a champion tennis player, she's also an iconic figure and a leader in the fight for equality. Venus has been a political and social leader. She has been very vocal about fighting for equality.
While Venus wasn't the first Black athlete in tennis, she was certainly still a trailblazer and 'an anomaly' She has carried that baton for equality for years, along with her younger sister Serena." Navratilova, who has won Wimbledon nine times in her career, says that Venus' passion for the game has ensured she has lasted this long.
"I used to think that Venus would retire sometime around her 25th birthday. I remember her saying as a young woman that she would quit tennis in her mid-20s and do something else. Back then, the prospect of Venus still playing on the WTA Tour at aged 40 was just unimaginable.
Clearly, she just loves tennis. She loves getting out there and doing her thing, and competing, and she has found a way of dealing with Sjögren's syndrome. I would think she has also realised that maybe, whatever she does next, she won't be as good at it as she is at playing tennis, that she won't necessarily be the best in the world at something else."
Speaking about the sibling rivalry between Venus and Serena Williams, Navratilova says that Venus has always been the protective older sibling who loves seeing her younger sister win. "I'm sure it helps Venus and Serena that the other sister is still playing.
They're still feeding off each other and inspiring each other. While the sisters have their own lives and own careers, there's such a strong connection there. Some have wondered whether Venus might have found it hard watching her younger sister win more titles than her.
But I don't think that older sisters tend to think like that. As the older sister, you're always looking out for the younger one. Venus is only going to wish Serena well. She would be totally thrilled if Serena wins another major or two.
All she cares about is that a Williams sister wins a title and then it's kind of like a family trophy." Venus Williams is a former World No. 1 and seven-time Grand Slam champion in singles. She turned 40 years old on June 17th.