Cape Town – Tennis legend Martina Navratilova believes Venus Williams can be a force to be reckoned with even at 40 years of age.
After a tumultuous period, the older Williams sister has experienced a revival in the past couple seasons. Bouncing back from an rare autoimmune disease that hampered her for years and a serious back injury in 2016, Williams has since reached two grand slam finals and had a couple final four appearances.
In 2017, the upturn in form saw her re-enter the top five in for the first time since 2010 and she lead the WTAs money list for good measure.
As such, Navratilova – who was still winning titles well into her late 30s – is adamant the American superstar can keep her foot on the gas for a couple more seasons.
"I can see Venus Williams playing until she's 40," Navratilova wrote in her column for wtatennis.com.
"She turns 38 in June but, if you look at how she's been playing and also where she is in the rankings, still inside the Top 10, she hardly seems to have aged at all. She's found a way of staying fresh and healthy, and avoiding burnout.
"A semi-finalist in Indian Wells, where she beat her younger sister Serena, and then a quarterfinalist in Miami, Venus is in the running for a title every time she plays a tournament. If she stays healthy and motivated, there's no telling what she can do. She must be already looking forward to Wimbledon, as she reached the final last year, and grass is her best surface. In July, so shortly after her 38th birthday, Venus will be among the contenders at the All England Club…"
What does Navratilova attribute Williams revival to? Well, todays athletes are certainly more pampered…
"Even though the tennis is now more physical, the players are playing less, athletic health care is so much better, travel is easier, and the food and drink the athletes consume has been taken to a whole new level," she added.
"All of this makes a big difference in the long run – it saves the body and the mind, helps you stay hungry and motivated and, before you know it, youre pushing 40 while still winning major titles."