"The first one was a tight tussle," Sam Richards, the on-court commentator mentioned to Venus Williams after her win of 7-5, 6-2 over Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens. She was referring to her closer score vicory in the first set, but the 7-time grand slam champion simply smiled it off just glad to have won her opening Melbourne round.
Venus Williams had been a tennis trooper making as many tournaments in the year as possible but coming up with not so much the results she wanted. Most events she'd gone only to the opening or second round before bowing and entering another tournament.
The tour went into suspension and after 5 months Williams decided to go to New York to play in the Cincinnati Masters and the US Open. They both would be located at the National Tennis Center in New York. It was a different thing playing without the crowds in the stand and experiencing life in 'a bubble'; to be tested many times in a week and quarantines that helped to compromise anyone's mental fortitude in striving for success.
The FO proved even more daring but the same results Williams had experienced.
There were the tournaments at Melbourne designed for players in 2-week quarantine that Venus won her first round of the Yarra Valley Classic.
She had gone up against Arantxa Rus, a blasting shot hitter whose consistency was quite off. Williams took full advantage and scored a straight set win to move into the 2nd round. There the Czech, Petra Kvitova was waiting for her and won the round stopping Venus' success.
Williams' momentum and rhythm were off and Kvitova had a long time career experience on ther side. But something better was possibly coming for the 'big sister' Williams at the Australian Open. Putting the quarantines aside, Williams was determined to score a hit at this first grand slam of the year.
She had put forth the practice sessons to prepare and had won the slam twice, with the last coming four years ago. Kirsten Flipkens better known for her doubles' expertise had played the Williams' sister before and had gotten a few matches on her.
She tried to show a bit of consistency and finesse in rallying with her opponent who never gives up her chance to win. The 49-title career winner was playing a sharp game though and won the first set 7-5. The following and decisive set was the combination of defiance, determination and experience over the years of a grand slam winner.
Venus kept her unforced errors down to a minimum andhad the ability to move around her Belgian opponent to get successful shots scoring winners. She had won her opening round 7-5, 6-2 something she'd had trouble doing in the past season.
When the on-court interviewer asked her how she did it she gave her traditional smile. "I tried to do more stuff that was working and less stuff that wasn't." She gave a broad grin and a realistic theory. She's scored and now moves on with her experimentation of strategies and plays. Hopefully this will move her through successfully and deep in the Australian Open draw.