The event brimmed with opportunity for her, and Venus ducked into most every opening she had at this Wimbledon. She played for a full fortnight. She played through distractions, such as pesky fines. She played through a tragedy. She played through bad press, ageist comments, racial tension and insipid social media posts.
A tearful Venus Williams just had to leave her interview session after being asked about the fatal car accident she was involved in in June— David Waldstein (@DavidWaldstein) July 3, 2017
A tweet promoting our story on Wimbledon's clothing rules was seen by some as insensitive. This wasn't our intent. We have deleted the tweet pic.twitter.com/3mi57XvhTX— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) July 13, 2017
She played for herself, and for her love of the game.
Indeed, Venus played through the future, the promising future of her chosen sport. In three consecutive matches, in straight sets, she beat the youngest player remaining in the Wimbledon women's draw – Naomi Osaka (19), Ana Konjuh (19) and 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko (2o). Each of them was born in 1997 – the year Venus entered her first Wimbledon.
"I don't think anyone can become the next Serena and Venus," Osaka said of the Williams sisters at these Championships. "I feel like they're legends. I don't think it's possible with the way tennis is now. I just feel like I want to do the best that I can."
Indubitably, Venus reaps praise from peers both retired and up-and-coming. She has a way about her.
'Venus' game is energy-efficient. Could Wozniacki play till 37? Doubt it. One rally in her matches takes 10 minutes' — Anna Chakvetadze.— Oleg S. (@AnnaK_4ever) July 13, 2017
She won't be around forever, but she relishes this sport and hasn't turned in her walking papers yet. The beauty of tennis is that those can only be handed to be player by herself. Even so, Venus says she won't overstay. She will "need a break from touring, rain delays, waiting on matches. I don't need that in my life after this. You guys can do [the so-called "super-coaching." There's always other chapters in your life. I definitely lived this chapter. I'm still living it and I love this game. So I think I'll have an opportunity not to miss it, I imagine."
For six rounds, Venus hardly missed anything, save her sister. She smacked forehand and backhand winners at will, made timely cameos at the net, and served exceedingly well. One indelible memory about her serve at this event: a second-serve ace that all but blew through Johanna Konta in their well-contested semifinal.
Venus Williams 2nd serve (????Eurosport) pic.twitter.com/3jCrXauEto— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) July 13, 2017
Eventually Venus missed. Whether the need for steely focus or its physical demands bore down on her or whether it was simply one of those off-days against a capable foe, she came up short and yet standing tall alongside Muguruza.
Venus will not forget that forehand at 5-4, set point, for a while. Ever since that miss, it's been all Muguruza.— Andrew Eichenholz (@andrewikesports) July 15, 2017
Her record in Wimbledon singles finals moves to still-formidable 5-5, a testament to her endurance over 20 years and to the specter of Serena, who has won and lost a few finals at SW19 against Venus.
Her mother, Oracene Price, may have rubbed elbows with Grace Jones behind the scenes at Wimbledon, but it was Venus herself who graced the world for another mighty fortnight.
^Ms. Jones is wearing a black leather pilot's helmet, à la Amelia Earhart, and a ~10 foot rainbow silk scarf, if you need further visuals.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) July 14, 2017
After Venus' latest denouement, after Muguruza had rattled off nine straight games, Venus was once again prompted to speak to Serena, this time by court presenter Sue Barker. "I try to do the same things you do," Venus said into the camera, and into the vast-yet-intimate Centre Court environs. "But I think there will be other opportunities. I do."
She does and she will.
Follow Jon on Twitter: @jonscott9.