Wimbledon: Will Venus stay the distance?

Venus Williams has got her second Wimbledon title in the bag after two wonderful weeks of power and precision, but there remain doubts over her ability or desire to join the legends of the women’s game.

Venus Williams has got her second Wimbledon title in the bag after two wonderful weeks of power and precision, but there remain doubts over her ability or desire to join the legends of the women’s game.

Williams herself may have something to say about the prospect of emulating the likes of Steffi Graf, who won seven titles, or Martina Navratilova, who won nine.

Rumours continue to abound that Williams, currently studying for an associate degree in fashion design, intends to quit the sport in three years’ time at the age of just 24.

That rumour was given added credence earlier this week when her extrovert father Richard said: ‘‘She will not be retiring in the next two or three years.’’

Venus, asked about the possibility of following in the footsteps of the likes of Graf and Navratilova, said: ‘‘It will be tough because, you know, I’ll be older.

‘‘Some people started when they were younger winning titles. My first title was at 20.

‘‘If I could have started winning at 16, maybe the story would be different.’’

Venus certainly has the power and the poise to rule the roost for a few years, particularly on grass, but doubts remain about her range.

For long periods of her final against Belgian teenager Justine Henin - seven inches shorter than Williams - on Sunday, it was Henin who produced the delightful driven backhands and choice of shots of which Williams could only dream.

Williams even acknowledged that her route to retaining the title had been far from flawless, intimating she would be devoting a lot more time to the practice court in the coming year to try and keep ahead of the pack.

‘‘I didn’t practice much for the US Open and at the Olympics I hit hardly at all. I’d be out there practising, I’d just be fooling around.

‘‘I had about eight wonderful weeks of practice before Wimbledon, that lasted me the whole year. This year, I’m going to practice more.’’

Henin meanwhile is intent on using her maiden Grand Slam final appearance and the experience of only her second ever Wimbledon to good effect in the future.

She said: ‘‘I think I had two unbelievable weeks here. I will remember it for the rest of my life.

‘‘I didn’t think I could be in the final this year, I could have been out in the second round when I was down 7-5 and 4-1 against Kristie Boogert.

‘‘Then I was in the final, that was a dream. But I think I have to work very hard to do my goals and come back to Wimbledon to win.’’

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