Defiant Venus Williams made it clear she has no intention of retiring following her painful Wimbledon exit.
Venus’s 5-7, 7-6 (7/2), 7-5 third round defeat against fellow former champion Petra Kvitova on Friday means the five-time Wimbledon winner has failed to reach the last 16 at a major since 2011.
At 34, Venus was the oldest woman left in the Wimbledon singles and, plagued for the last three years by Sjogren’s Disease – an immune system disease that leaves her battling fatigue and joint pain – she hasn’t won a Grand Slam since securing the last of her seven major titles in 2008 at Wimbledon.
That has led to plenty of talk that Venus will opt to retire sooner rather than later and she was again quizzed about her plans for the future following the loss to Kvitova.
But Venus, in her 17th Wimbledon appearance, had made it to the last 32 at a major for the first time since the 2013 Australian Open and took heart from the way she gave a glimpse of her former glories to push the higher ranked Kvitova all the way.
“No, people have been trying to retire me since I was like 25. For some reason in tennis we always do that to our players,” Williams said when asked if this might have been her Wimbledon farewell.
“It’s weird. We don’t encourage them to stick around. It’s like, ‘Get out of here’.
“So I’m not getting out of here. I think this year has been a great year for me. I’ve had some tough losses, but I’ve learned a lot from them.
“I’m finding my way back on my feet. I’m proud of myself for what I’m achieving on the court.
“I’ve missed big blocks of my career off the court on injury. That has kept me regenerated.
“I’ve got extra steam because I have to make up for lost time.”
On this form, Williams has every reason to feel she can still compete with the best and she is determined to mount a strong challenge for more major titles in the future.
“I want to win Grand Slams. Everybody does. You don’t get ’em easily,” she said.
“Look at what happened today. No one gives it to you. They snatch it away and say ‘Mine’. “That’s what I’ll have to do is snatch it, say, ‘Mine’, too, growl if need be. That’s what it takes.”
That ferocious desire for success was on full display as 30th seed Williams gave one of her best displays for years against Kvitova in a high-quality encounter in front of an enthralled Centre Court crowd.
And rather than be content with putting up a good fight, she was adamant that the sting of defeat was still as painful as it was during her prime.
“It’s a shame there had to be a loser in this match and more of a shame that it had to be me,” she said.
“All I can say is that it’s great to see women’s tennis on such a high level. I always expect a great match when I play her.
“She manages to somehow bring her best tennis against me. But I’m motivated by every defeat no matter how upsetting it
is. It’s never fun.
“I’m motivated to work harder each and every time, whatever stage it was in my career.”