x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Doha event is special for Williams

Venus Williams tonight begins the defence of a Middle East double.

Venus Williams admits she is confident ahead of the defence of her title in Doha.
Venus Williams admits she is confident ahead of the defence of her title in Doha.

DOHA // Venus Williams tonight begins the defence of a Middle East double. The experienced American captured the year-ending Sony Ericsson WTA Tour championships last November before adding the prestigious Dubai title to her collection three months later. Venus enjoyed her week in Doha more than Dubai because she found herself acting as a players' spokesman in the aftermath of the Israeli Shahar Peer's exclusion from the tournament. She was widely praised for her ambassadorial qualities then and maintained yesterday that the affair had not affected her desire to return to the UAE.

"Yeah, people have said a lot of nice things about that," said Venus in advance of the first of her three group matches tonight. "For me, my whole thing is that we all worked as a team, players and the Tour representatives, to make positive changes in the game and to move forward and be competitive and to stay relevant. So it's really a team effort, and I'm very happy to be on the team. "So far so good, for next year I don't think we have any issues - I'm positive about the situation for next year in Dubai."

Venus is now regarded as a veteran of the women's tour, but she says she is a long time from hanging up her racket and is desperate to add to her seven grand slams - five of them at Wimbledon, where she was dethroned this year by younger sister Serena. "I love what I do, so that's a complete up for me," she said. "I get to work outside. "My thing is I get to make a living looking good. It's my job to stay fit. It doesn't get better than that.

"Serena and I are playing at a level that would keep us here for quite a few years longer," she said. "This is very good news for us. At the end of the year, I'm feeling like I'm ending on a high note." Venus won the 39th of her 41 career titles in Doha last year and expressed confidence about her prospects of repeating her conquest of the rest of the world's top eight players. "Last year was definitely a monumental moment," she enthused. "I never thought it would feel so good actually to win the year-end championships. It was definitely a surprised feeling at the end. I would love to feel that again."

The elder Williams sister is at ease with the prospect of facing her sibling in the group stages. "We can still meet again in the final," she said. The sisters have also qualified for the Tour doubles play-offs for the first time and are relishing a chance to stamp their authority over the other partnerships in that supporting event."