Venus Has Done it Before
I was dreading today. I am an undisputed Williams fan. Serena and Venus in equal measure. I like Jelena Ostapenko too: small, feisty, bighitting and ludicrously self assured. You can never write her off. I was suspecting Venus Williams might have a few nerves going into thismatch, but forgot how she loves playing hard hitting opponents.
This match was her real big test of the championships and it will tell us where she is with her game. I need not have been nervous at all. The 7 times grand slam champion had a game plan. It was simple. Hit harder and serve bigger and it was an awesome sight.
Ostapenko, at 20 years old, has many Wimbledon’s ahead of her and Williams does not, and this might explain the urgency with which Williams started the match.
The start was electrifying. Venus Williams had match face on from the off. The serving and moving was that of a 25 year old. It was the Willliams of old. Reaching up for the ball and bringing all her bodyweight down on serve. Venus was in her stride. Ostapenko looked in shock as her first serve deserted her.
At 4-2 up Williams steps up tothe serve line and puts in her first double fault. The next serve is
unreturned and she is now leading 30-15. Soon Williams is 5-2 up and strutting around the court like a heavyweight boxer bracing herself for the knock out punch.
Djokovic had just played on Centre and left complaining about the state of the court saying its the worse he has ever known it. Williams on the other hand appeared not to have noticed as she changed ends.
Ostapenko stepped up her game and started better. At 5-3 Williams serves for the first set
and is pretty untroubled in doing so as she has set point in 29 minutes and clinches it with an ace.
Ostapenko has it all to do. She needs to find away to take first strike tennis away from Williams and the 68% v 44% first serves in that helped Williams throughout.
Into the second and the Latvian Ostapenko is not easily discouraged, and puts in an excellent serve
hold in the opening game of the second set. Williams serving is keeping the young 20 year old at bay. And she soon
gets another break and is up 2-1 and serving quickly between points. It is a sure sign of her confidence. Her average speed on serve is 107 mph and it puts in her a commanding 3-1 lead. There were, however, signs of the
brilliance Ostapenko can produce and was typified by some backhands down the line. Ostapendo was a ballet dancer before she transferred those skills to the tennis court. Her nibble footwork is one of her strengths as she is not easy to wrong foot. It got her a break and we are now at 3-3 and predictably this was helped by a Williams double
fault. Ostapenko has shifted the momentum and now has Williams trailing 4-3.
Williams now has new balls which always helps big servers and has an easy and comfortable hold. However, clumsiness is
never far away in the Williams game and it takes extraordinary concentration to try and stamp out the unforced errors.
At 5 5, surely the 5 times Wimbledon champion will press down the accelerator? She soon has 40-15 and takes control to take a 6-5 lead.
‘Now then’, I hear myself saying. “Come on Venus, let’s get on with it. She does. Into another Semi final she goes. She looked surprised, but many more looked delighted for this unbelievable 37 year old.