Matt Brown: A final fairytale for Venus Williams

By Radio Sport tennis commentator Matt Brown

Venus Williams celebrates after beating Yaroslava Shvedova at Wimbledon. Photo / AP
Venus Williams celebrates after beating Yaroslava Shvedova at Wimbledon. Photo / AP

The renaissance of Venus Williams is the story of Wimbledon.

Arguably the most recognisable athlete in women's sport, the 36-year-old is through to her first Wimbledon semifinal in seven years, having won the title at the All England Club five times.

She is unquestionably the sentimental favourite for the title and if she can pull off that incredible feat, it will go down as good as any sporting achievement this year.

Williams is remarkable both on and off the court, having battled the auto-immune disease Sjogrens Syndrome for the past five years, which leaves her devoid of energy and unable to get out of bed some days.

Sure her form since being diagnosed with the disease in 2011 has wavered at times, but she's never stopped fighting and, as she says, it has made her stronger.

With age comes maturity and Williams has become one of the best athletes in tennis to deal with, just ask Auckland's ASB Classic tournament director Karl Budge who is gushing in his praise of the American.

She is insightful and thoughtful at her media conferences and terrific with the fans.

Budge is keen to sign Williams for next January's ASB Classic having played in Auckland for the past three years. However most pundits predict Venus will announce her retirement this year, possibly after the US Open.

Williams put more bums on seats in Auckland than any athlete to grace centre court at the ASB Classic, and that includes Maria Sharapova and Ana Kournikova before her.

What her Wimbledon run has shown, is Venus is still capable of competing and beating the best in the business. Even if she loses Thursday night's semifinal against Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber, she is projected to rise to seven in the world again.

She's enjoying herself on court and is as tough a competitor as anyone. Perhaps her efforts this fortnight will encourage her to continue in 2017. Venus Williams has been an icon for more than two decades, let's revel in her Wimbledon success and hope she doesn't soon call time on her career.

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