(AP) — The welcome and support for Venus Williams in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday afternoon were not the same as they were for her sister, Serena, a night earlier. Nor was the result.
Venus, who turned 42 in June, has not made any pronouncements about her future in tennis, unlike her younger sibling, and while she has been successful and influential, too — a seven-time Grand Slam champion; a Black woman in a predominantly white sport — the fanfare and attention are not the same.
Playing in front of thousands of empty blue seats in an arena quite silent at the start, although growing louder later, Venus bowed out in the first round of the US Open for the second consecutive appearance, losing 6-1, 7-6 (5) to Alison Van Uytvanck.
“She means so much to female tennis. Tennis, in general,” Van Uytvanck said. “She’s a legend.”
This was the 23rd trip to Flushing Meadows for Venus, who made it to the final in 1997 as a teen then won the trophy in 2000 and 2001, and her record 91st time participating in a major tournament.
Venus had never lost in the opening round at the US Open until 2020, then was absent last year.
Asked what keeps her motivated these days, she answered: “Three letters: W-I-N. That’s it. Very simple.”
Venus was off the tour in singles entirely from August 2021 until less than a month ago and is now 0-4 since her return. Her ranking — which 20 years ago was No 1 — is 1,504th this week.
Van Uytvanck now meets Clara Burel, who eliminated Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina 6-4, 6-4.