Even at 37 and with five Wimbledon titles to her name, Venus Williams still has that overwhelming desire to win.
And she’s showing it again this year at the All England Club, where she will face Garbine Muguruza on Saturday in her ninth Wimbledon final.
“I’m definitely in the position I want to be in,” Williams said. “It’s a long two weeks. Now, knocking on the door for a title. This is where I want to be.”
Williams has quite a history at the grass-court major, winning her first Grand Slam title in London in 2000. The last of her seven majors came at the same place in 2008.
Shortly after that, in 2011, Williams announced she had Sjogren’s disease, an energy-sapping illness that also can cause joint pain. She missed some big tournaments, and made several early exits at the majors.
But she has bounced back, playing some of her best tennis over the last 12 months. She reached the Wimbledon semifinals last year, and the Australian Open final this year.
On Saturday, she’ll be playing for the Venus Rosewater Dish for the ninth time in her 20th Wimbledon appearance.
“There’s still a lot to be done. I have one more match that I’d like to be the winner of,” Williams said. “I have to go out there and take it and play well.”
The person on the other side of the net also has experience playing in the last weekend on Centre Court. The 23-year-old Muguruza played for the title in 2015, losing to Venus’ little sister, Serena Williams.
Serena isn’t at Wimbledon this year because she is pregnant and taking the rest of the season off. But Venus will likely be checking in with her for some advice ahead of Saturday’s match.
“Serena did play her in a final,” Venus said. “I definitely will ask her. I’m sure she’s going to give me hopefully some things that will make a difference for me in the match.”
Muguruza, however, beat Serena to win the French Open title in 2016. And she’s expecting the same kind of atmosphere despite the unfamiliar opponent.
“I don’t think it’s going to be different. A final is a final,” Muguruza said. “Only one’s going to win… The racket has to talk.”
Besides her experience on the court, Muguruza will also have some experience behind her off it. She has been working with 1994 Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez recently.
“I think she’s helping me to deal with the stress of the tournament, because it’s a long tournament,” Muguruza said. “So she just knows how to prepare, how to train, what to do.
“Not that I’m doing something different, honestly. But to have her by my side gives me also this little confidence on having someone that has won before.”
Williams and Muguruza have played each other four times before, and the American has won three of them. They have never before played on grass, though.
“It’s good that she’s played her before, and that she’s beaten her. So she knows what’s to come,” Martinez said of Saturday’s match. “She just has to play tennis, and not worry about who’s favored or who isn’t favored. She needs to think about the next point and nothing else.”
When Martinez won at Wimbledon for her only major, she beat 37-year-old Martina Navratilova in the final. Williams is the oldest Wimbledon finalist since then.
Age, however, seems to be an advantage for Williams.
“I think it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to play well and to be strong and have experience,” Williams said. “So I think experience can either work against you or for you. I like to think it’s working for me.”