Venus Williams still a threat at the Australian Open

The upcoming Australian Open has plenty of compelling tennis storylines, and remarkably, 38-year-old Venus Williams is one of them.

The seven-time Grand Slam singles champion remains a formidable opponent that a higher seed would dread seeing in an early-round clash, especially given her recent form.

Venus Williams

Williams defeated fellow former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in a three-set battle in Auckland on New Year’s Eve.

And though it was only an exhibition, Williams took down her more-heralded sister in an Abu Dhabi exhibition last month. Beating Serena when the stakes are higher has been more difficult for the older of the two sisters.

Venus Williams still packs plenty of punch with her ground strokes, and her movement appears to be quite good given her advanced age in tennis years.

While her first serve has great pop to it, her second serve is a major liability. She also struggles to maintain a high-quality of play for long stretches, leading to some lopsided set losses even in three-set matches where she ultimately prevails.

Whether she can prevail in a lengthy match amid searing temperatures in Melbourne is a question mark, though if she is defeated it won’t be for a lack of effort. Her fire on court and will to win persists.

Williams would certainly love to duplicate her major form of two years ago when she reached the Wimbledon final and the U.S. Open semifinals.

With 49 WTA victories, capturing her 50th at a Grand Slam event would be extra sweet.

If Williams indeed plays through the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, as she recently hinted she plans to, she would be a solid bet to reach the half-century mark in victories.

For now, her focus is the hard courts of Melbourne where she hopes to capture her first Australian Open singles crown.

She certainly has a fighter’s chance to generate some more favorable headlines and enhance the legacy of her storied career.