It might not have been the prettiest match of her career.
But a lot of round numbers came to be for Venus Williams Saturday, as she dispatched Arantxa Rus 6-1, 6-4 in the first rubber of the U.S.’s Fed Cup tie against the Netherlands.
According to the WTA Tour, it was singles match No. 1000 of Williams’ illustrious career. And it was singles win No. 20 in Fed Cup.
(The ITF has her record at 758-223, so it’s her 982nd match. The WTA has her with 17 more wins and just one more loss – because they include qualifying matches. But hey, why ruin a good narrative).
“It’s never easy. It’s always a challenge. I think that’s why you play the match. It’s never a win until it’s over,” Williams said during her on-court interview. “On paper, it looked like I should win the match but it was a battle. And it’s a battle I’m glad the US won.”
Williams said the slight altitude in Asheville, North Carolina (a little over 2,000 feet) meant she had trouble finding the right balance, especially in the second set. “I like to go big. I was trying to find the balance between going big and too big,” she said.
Williams-Ohanian family representing
Sister Serena Williams was on the sidelines cheering. Williams is penciled in for the doubles, but who knows if she’ll play – if the U.S. clinches it with the first singles match of the day Sunday, they would skip straight to the doubles dead rubber).
So was Venus’s niece Alexis Olympia, with brother-in-law Alexis “Senior” chronicling the moments.
Venus is now 20-2 in singles in Fed Cup. This was her first tie since 2016.
Her only two losses came to Russians.
Elena Dementieva beat her 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) in the 1999 final in Stanford, Calif. The other defeat was a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 loss to Anastasia Myskina in the 2005 semifinals in Moscow.
As it happens, both those women – long retired – were on court just last week, having a hit-and-giggle as part of the St. Petersburg WTA Tour event.
And Venus is still truckin’ at the top.
Match No. 1? Well, both the WTA Tour and the ITF agree on that. It came in Oakland, Calif. on Halloween, 1994 – a 6-3, 6-4 win against No. 58-ranked Shaun Stafford.