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KEY DATES FOR WIMBLEDON 2017

Qualifying begins: 26 June

The Draw: 30 June

Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July

Order of Play: 2 July

Championships begin: 3 July

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News
Sunday, 16 July 2017 17:15 PM BST
There's more to come, says vintage Venus
After two Grand Slam finals already this season, American says bring on the summer READ MORE

It is the one piece of the script that did not fit the fairytale plan – the chance to see 2007 Wimbledon winners Venus Williams and Roger Federer posing together again at the Champions’ Ball, having defied age and doubters alike, victorious a decade later.

While Federer marched to a record eighth men’s singles crown there was no shame in Williams’s defeat at the last hurdle a day earlier.

The fact the 37-year-old American strode on to Centre Court in her first Wimbledon singles final in nine years was remarkable in itself.

Many thought her surprise run to last year’s semi-finals was the best she could have hoped for, given her age and struggles with Sjogren’s syndrome.

The former world No.1 had been forced to switch to a plants-based diet since being diagnosed in 2008 with the incurable autoimmune disorder, which saps her of energy and can leave her joints aching.

Given the added stress of her current off-court struggles, the result was all the more astonishing.

What a revival 2017 has been.

Williams has now made two Grand Slam finals in the space of six months. Consider she did not pass the fourth round at any of the Grand Slams from 2011 to 2014 and the magnitude of her run becomes clearer.

But the nature in which the legend of the game faded in the second set of her final defeat to Garbiñe Muguruza on Saturday – the first 6-0 set she had suffered at SW19 – led many to question whether she had what it took physically to go the distance in a Grand Slam again.

Williams completely dodged answering questions about whether her body had tired after a gruelling first set, in which she let two set points slip.

I've had a great two weeks. I'm looking forward to the rest of the summer

- Venus Williams

“She played really well. I mean, she played top tennis, so I have to give her credit for just playing a better match,” Williams said when questioned on whether Sjogren’s came into effect. “I've had a great two weeks. I'm looking forward to the rest of the summer.”

In her post-final analysis commentating for BBC, two-time Grand Slam champion Mary Pierce summed it up best – at this point in Williams’s career, it was a battle of the body as much as the mind.

“I don't think this will affect Venus too much. She has the mind of a champion but physically it was generally fatigue in her body,” Pierce said. “You could see all over she was tired and that first set took it out of her.”

Williams knew the question was coming and the sarcasm in her response hinted at the frustration, knowing this was likely the best chance she would have had at adding to her long-stagnated Grand Slam tally.

“Presumably you’re coming back next year, right?” the reporter asked.

“Presumably, yes,” she offered deadpan.

A runner-up showing at SW19 is Williams’ springboard back to the top 10, having ended 2016 at world No.17.

With her greatest rival – sister Serena – currently out of the picture as she prepares for the birth of her first child, Williams will head to the US Open as one of the title favourites.

“I've been in a position a lot of times this year to contend for big titles,” Williams said. “That's the kind of position I want to keep putting myself in. It's just about getting over the line. I believe I can do that.”

The mind is there. It becomes a matter of whether Williams’ body can get her across the line to an eighth Grand Slam title.

Two slam finals in six months. Don’t write her off.

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