On the day, Johanna Konta was too good. She beat Venus Williams 6-4, 7-5 win in their semi-final of the Miami Open on Thursday. The outcome of the encounter, however, couldn’t dim the overall euphoria that Venus created all through the tournament — right up to the dying moments of the semi-final when she broke Konta while the latter was serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set.

The day before her loss to Konta, Venus played her match of the tournament as she upset Angelique Kerber. Venus’ resounding win over the German World No 1 was a throwback to her dominant past, when such wins regularly came off her racquet.

But, it was the backdrop of her father Richard Williams’ on-site attendance that considerably added to the import of Venus’ 2017 Miami Open outing.

The Richard Williams impact

“Well, my dad is one of the loves of my life. And he is, really like, the reason why I am in this game. So, of course, it’s awesome to have him there [in the front row of the stands],” gushed Venus Williams in her post-match on-court interaction with Brad Gilbert.

“My dad really wanted [the win] for me. I could hear him on the side-lines. It’s always a happy moment, when I come off the court. Even if I lose, he’s still very happy. But to see the joy and the pride and the excitement – I could win the match just for that.”

And, perhaps in the end Venus’ win over the World No 1 was just about that. An attempt to turn back time, not only to the bygone days of her peak, but to also those times when Richard Williams’ presence in the player support box was unfailing as it has come to be a rarity in recent times.


While both the Williams siblings seem to have plugged the wormhole of time – Venus more so than Serena this year, so far – the elder Williams hasn’t remained impervious to the passage of age. The 75-year-old, who battled through a stroke during 2016 Wimbledon, has turned into a wizened version of his former self.

The patriarch has also long ceased to be the hands-on coach for the sisters, each of whom who has found viable and trusted coaching partnerships, Venus with David Witt and Serena with Patrick Mouratoglou. However, the unconventional way with which Williams built the foundations of Venus and Serena’s careers continues to be a significantly exploratory aspect for most sections of the tennis world.

Referencing Williams’ exhaustively mapped out career plan for Venus and Serena, a lot has been mentioned about how his (then) lofty prediction about his youngest daughter becoming far more successful than her sister. And, as much as it has come to be a testament to Williams’ perceptiveness, his words have also been twisted to reinforce them as a subtle tool of comparison between the sisters.

The essence of Venus’ longevity has been cloaked under this misinterpretation as well.

The underwhelming singularity of Venus Williams


Aside of winning the Miami Open back-to-back in 1998-99 and then again in 2001, Venus made the trip to the finals of the tournament on other occasion, in 2010. That last appearance also coincides with the last time that Venus made it so deep in the Premier Mandatory event, before losing to Kim Clijsters, who was still on her comeback trail from her first retirement.

In these seven years, Clijsters has since long retired for the second time as have hung up their racquets, a few other top-ranked players and Major winners. Venus, on the other hand, just defeated a World No 1 for the 14th time in her career and has come closer to re-entering the top-10 ranking for the umpteenth time. She isn’t, however, limiting herself to featuring back inside the top-10, but is also aiming farther – to try and regain the World No 1 ranking, though it’s a long way ahead, as of now.

“In the past I never played enough to be contentious for No 1 for a while there, even when I was [the World No 1], back in the day. But I will like to be No 1. Nobody is out there saying, ‘Cool, No 11. Actually 11 is better than 1. Nobody is saying, Cool, No 2 or No 19. Everybody is thinking, Well, 1 is a little better.’ So, yes, I would like to do that again,” Venus had said in her post-match press conference after her third round win over Romanian qualifier Patricia Maria Tig.

Irrespective of whether she is able to reclaim the top-spot in the WTA ranking, more than 15 years after she first climbed the perch, it’s is enviable that Venus has retained the same purposefulness with which she came joined the Pro Tour as a 14-year-old in 1994, making it seem as if these were potential first-time career goals she were vying for.

It’s in this finely-tuned display of professional descriptiveness that the nuances of Richard Williams’ coaching come through majorly. It wasn’t about keeping Venus as an adjunct to Serena, but to enable her to be the best she could be. And, there can’t be any better summation of this attribute than the eloquence of Venus herself, “I know that no matter what [the result] I’m going to leave everything on the court – all my guts, blood, sweat and tears.”