Venus Williams, aged 36, ranked No. 17, hasn’t dropped a single set en route to the semifinals at the Australian Open. Her 6-4, 7-6 (3) win over No. 27 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova made her the oldest woman in the Open era to run this deep into this tournament.
It’s been a quiet decade for the elder Williams sister, who last won a major in 2008, hasn’t played in the final of one since Wimbledon in 2009, and drifted from 2011 to 2015 without ever winning a quarterfinal. Her career warmed up again last year on her favorite surface, grass, as she cut a swath into the Wimbledon semifinals. So far this year, the hardcourt seems to be suiting her well enough. In the second set of her match against Pavlyuchenkova, she let loose this leaping cross-court backhand that seemed to traverse the longest possible distance on the court, hanging in the air forever before parking in the back corner, untouchable.
It’s the second week of a Grand Slam in the year 2017 and there remains open the possibility of a Nadal-Federer final on the men’s side and a Williams sister duel on the women’s. Career longevity is a very welcome, relatively new fact of the tennis universe, we can hope.