MELBOURNE, Australia – Shortly after sitting in Rod Laver Arena while sister Serena went down to shocking defeat Wednesday afternoon, Venus Williams hit the practice court.
It was an unusual sight, for several reasons.
For one thing, Williams has been out of the tournament since last Saturday, eliminated in the third round by No. 1 seed Simona Halep, 6-2, 6-3.
That she was still around supporting her sister wasn’t unusual.
But that she’d be out on the practice court later that day, with a two-hour block reserved, would qualify as different.
As well, Venus had another two-hour block booked Thursday morning.
Unusual practice session
What made it especially unusual is that Williams didn’t travel Down Under with a coach or a hitting partner.
The American dispatched her team in the off-season, including coach of 11 years David Witt. She also let hitting partner Jermaine Jenkins go.
So there she was, with a male hitting partner on standby. And she was hitting with a young player who definitely was a little intimidated, and took awhile before she could get the ball into the court.
That, as well, was a highly unusual situation.
Here’s what it looked like.
Venus doesn’t even practice with her sister that often at tournaments – never mind other women players. They both pretty much do their own thing for the most part.
That’s what the dedicated hitting partner is for.
We’re trying to think of the last time she hit with another player (other than her sister). Not that it never happens. But it’s extremely rare.
Williams was almost incognito, with the glorious hair extensions nowhere in evidence under a snug-fitting cap. A few fans were watching, and there was security around the court. But it was as low-key as you can get.
There wasn’t any particular intensity to the practice. But hopefully all these post-tournament hours on the practice court presage a return to 2017 form for the 38-year-old.
She isn’t officially entered into anything until Indian Wells. And that’s another six weeks away. Might she be prepping for a wild card somewhere? Beyond Fed Cup, with is coming up.
Keep an eye open.