Venus Into the Semis and On the Brink

103901077 Venus Into the Semis and On the BrinkFor the first time since 2007, Venus Williams is going to the semifinals at the U.S. Open.

Venus basically hadn’t been tested at this tournament until tonight, and she handled it beautifully. She defeated Francesca Schiavone 7-6, 6-4 in a 1 hour, 54 minute match. All credit in the world to French Open champ Schiavone who showed up to play on a big stage, and did not seem overwhelmed by the pressure. She simply lost to a player who looks like she’s hitting her stride.

I’m a bit surprised Venus has been able to play as well as she has in this tournament. She hasn’t played any tennis since Wimbledon, she hasn’t won a Grand Slam in over two years, and she hasn’t played on a Friday of the second week at the Open in three years. If she faces Kim Clijsters–who will play later tonight–we’ll have a delightful Friday afternoon match that will be a rematch of their fourth round match last year.

And if Venus does get past Clijsters–or Stosur–and can get to the Finals, it may be time to to finally rewrite Venus’s legacy.

The older sister of the Williams duo has been completely overshadowed by her younger sis in recent years. It’s Serena, after all, who we have all been talking about in the first week of the tournament even though she wasn’t here. It’s Serena who has been hailed as the greatest player ever.

Venus, over the last six years, has gotten a rap for occasionally dominating Wimbledon and fading away everywhere else. Since 2002, Venus has won three Wimbledons. She has won no other Grand Slams. She hasn’t even been to the final of any of the other three Grand Slams in nearly eight years (last trip? Australia 2003). If Venus, at the end of her career, can elbow her way into a Final at the Open, Venus will notch her way up the list of All-Time Greats. No one has been talking about it–including me–because Venus has been around for so long. She always seems like a mildly interesting first week story before the inevitable flameout in the second week.

Even in 2007 when she made a trip to the semifinals it seemed to make sense. Venus came into the Open on the heels of her second win at Wimbledon in three years and it looked like she was getting second life. Then she lost to Justine Henin (after coming down with a strange case of supposed anemia) and she hasn’t been that far until this year. 

Venus’s next match comes mid-afternoon on Friday.