Tue Jun 29 03:08pm EDT
Venus Williams had lost at Wimbledon before, but never like she did on Tuesday in the quarterfinals to Tsvetana Pironkova. The five-time champion suffered a 6-2, 6-3 drubbing at the hands of the 82nd-ranked Bulgarian, hitting 29 unforced errors and spraying serves all over the court. It was a stunning display of futility and one that was completely unexpected from the best grass-court player of her generation. It forces the question: Is Venus Williams done?
Consider: Venus hasn't won any Grand Slam other than Wimbledon since 2001. In the non-Wimbledon slams, she's only advanced to the semifinals once in the past six years (2007 U.S. Open). During that same stretch, Venus has lost before the quarters in 13 of 18 non-grass majors. Two weeks ago, she turned 30.
It's not all bad news, though. People were counting out Venus in 2007 when she was coming back from injury and seeded No. 23 at Wimbledon. Twice in the first three rounds of that event she was one game away from defeat. She went on to win the title that year and repeated in 2008 as well. She's older now, of course, but not ancient. Steffi Graf never won a major after entering her fourth decade, but Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova won two and three, respectively.
The grass courts of Wimbledon were tailor-made for the size and power of Venus. Quick points are good when you're getting up there in tennis years. Throw in her long reach, effective net game and big serve and it's not unfathomable to think Venus can contend for another two or three years.
The window is closing, but it's not yet shut. Venus Williams has defied the odds before. It'd be foolish to think she can't do it again.