Venus Williams in top flight

Seasoned player insists her all-round game has vastly improved

By Alex Leach - Senior Reporter

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Published: Thu 19 Feb 2015, 1:23 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:45 PM

Dubai — Venus Williams believes she has added guile to her gargantuan groundstrokes and thus is now benefiting from better selection amid all of the trademark big shots. Williams has always had the physique and poise to be able to hit a ball clean and hard on the court, with her frame and height often enabling her to dominate rallies for the best part of 15 years now.

Venus Williams returns the ball to Belinda Bencic during their singles match at the DDF Tennis Championships on Monday. — Reuters 

However, she insists her all-round game has gone up a good notch or two over the last half-decade or so as her head has had more of an influence on when to opt for the characteristic heavy hitting or not. “My strategy is a lot better than five or six years ago,” the defending DDF Tennis champion, 34, explained.

“I’ve added another shot to my game in the last few months with the backhand slice. I’m actually starting to use it if I’m on defence and, sometimes, in the middle of the point. It’s not a shot I’m going to go to because I like to be aggressive. But, the strategy is getting better and, even when you’re not playing better, the strategy is still better even though you might lose sometimes.” Fine-tuning the mental aspect of her game is important to someone like Williams as well as there are physical limitations to often towering over the opponents she encounters.

“I have different weaknesses than someone who is smaller,” she admitted. “As a tall person, it’s easy for me to get slow if I don’t work on it. I don’t let that happen, so I’m constantly working on my agility and my movement. I have to work on it.” Williams — like Ana Ivanovic and Caroline Wozniacki — has enjoyed something of a rousing renaissance over the past 12 months, as evidenced by her tournament triumph here this time last year.

Finding form again has though been an incremental process, with opponents often raising their games against a player who is still rightly considered a standard-bearer for the women’s game.

“I’ve been able to get in a position to win some matches and, once you’re able to win matches, it helps you to build momentum,” Williams added. “Pretty much every match I lost, I was still almost there. That’s when you know you’re doing the right things and you just have to continue to the finish line and keep trying. “The quality that players produce against me is completely different to what they might do against someone lower ranked, so I have to be constantly ready — regardless of whether it is a top player or not — because their level is automatically higher.”

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