Don't cry for Venus Williams
LONDON -- By the end of the women's final, as the second set screamed by in a 26-minute rush of errors, Venus Williams walked as if in a daze. The shots she had struck so firmly during an unforgettable fortnight had gone missing. Some strayed long. Some nestled into the middle of the net. Others scuttled quietly to the sides of the court, landing wide.But don't cry for Venus. Do not feel too terribly bad. After the match, in her typically taciturn way, she vowed to march on. "I've been in a position this year to contend for big titles," said Williams, who at 37, after going eight years without making it to the Wimbledon final has now been runner-up at the Australian Open and here in London. "It's just about getting over the line. I believe I can."Venus Williams dropped the final nine games of the Wimbledon final. DENNIS/AFP/Getty ImagesWilliams versus Garbine Muguruza was not the match anyone expected. Both women came to it playing superbly. This seemed destined to be an afternoon full of screaming winners, a showcase for power tennis on the sport's greatest stage. It felt as if an icon was about to etch what could be a last gilded image into our collective memory banks.Instead this was a forgettable battle of attrition. As it wore on, as Muguruza gathered her nerves, dialing-in the forehands she'd been consistently hitting long, Williams simply crumbled."Errors, you can't make them," she said, dolefully pointing to the 10 unforced mistakes she made in the second set, the 25 misfires for the match. "I went for some big shots, and they didn't land."During the last game, the look on Venus' face was one of a woman mortified. She stared straight forward. At one point, it looked as if she might cry. This loss cut deeply. It was much more than the embarrassment of a 6-0, second set shellacking. This was a very winnable bid for a sixth Wimbledon -- her first since title here since 2008. At her age, saddled with Sjorgen's Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that can sap her strength, would it be her last great chance?When it was over, Williams gave every indication that the match will not dim her plans to continue playing top-flight tennis. She moves now to a ranking of nine in the world, up from 17 at the end of last year. It is lonely for her on tour without little sister, and she's planning to still be there when Serena comes back next year from having her first child. On Centre Court, after watching Muguruza lift of the winner's platter, Venus said she tries her best to mimic the winning ways of a sibling with 23 major titles. "I think there will still be other opportunities," she added.About an hour later, in a hushed press room, she sat at a podium and grimly addressed an international collection of reporters. As she does so often, she offered the trimmest of answers to the softest and most straightforward of questions."You've never been one to make excuses," a reporter began. "I remember here you said, 'If you're hurt, you don't play, and if you play, you're not hurt.' Everybody in the media was wondering whether your Sjogren's came into effect at the end, or if just the matches day after day and your age caught up with you?"Venus paused for a moment and then offered a reply that blew past the question entirely.