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By Erik Gudris | Monday, November 9, 2015

Venus Williams

Venus Williams, by ending her season back in the top 10, finished up one of the biggest stories of 2015.

Photo Credit: Corleve

Venus Williams finished her 2015 season on a high note by winning the year-end event in Zhuhai. She also now finds herself back in the top 10 for the first time in nearly five years. And while her little sister, Serena Williams, certainly dominated the WTA tour and headlines throughout 2015, it's hard not to pick the older Williams comeback as one of the biggest stories of the year.

WTA: Venus Wins Zhuhai and Returns to Top 10

Williams' return to the top 10 is compelling because so many never thought she would ever get there again. Her well-documented struggle with an autoimmune disorder often saw her lose multiple times in the early rounds of events over the years. After a first round loss in 2013 to Urszula Radwanska at Roland Garros, a reporter asked Williams if that was her last match. She tersely replied, "If it's the last match, I'll let you know."

Many who followed the sport openly begged for Williams to walk away from the game back then claiming that she was damaging her legacy with so many defeats. But Williams never saw it that way. Sure, she had achieved a lot in her stellar career and certainly could have been content with that. But the seven-time major champion kept on playing. Simply because she could and with the belief that she had plenty left to achieve, including perhaps winning another major title.

That determination not to quit finally paid off this year.

Williams started the year winning Auckland. She then reached the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time since 2010 She faced her sister twice at the majors, in the fourth round of Wimbledon and then a memorable three set losing battle at the US Open. Plenty feel that if Venus had somehow avoided her sister in the draw, the level of tennis she was playing in New York just might have taken her all the way.

But, it was a trip back across the Pacific Ocean, specifically to China, where Williams made her real move. In claiming the Wuhan title, she won her biggest event in five years. Though she barely missed the cut for the Singapore WTA Finals event, Williams made the most of the inaugural year-end event in Zhuhai by winning the title and propelling herself back into the top 10.

In Zhuhai, Williams said this when asked why she kept going through all the difficult years.

The word "legacy" has been used quite a lot this season. And especially for the younger Williams as she attempted to achieve the rarest accomplishment in the sport. But for the now 35-year-old Venus Williams, her own legacy is still being defined on her own terms. Like pioneers before her in Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova, Venus continues to break new records while not letting age or expectations slow her down. Next year she has even more records and possible new goals to achieve. Those include a possible return to the Indian Wells event and another trip to the Olympics where she has tasted gold medal success many times.

"It's a great thing to be top 10 now with the level of the game, but I'm still very hungry. I'm ready for more," Williams said. "I've had so many experiences in tennis that I still expect a lot from myself. So I'm very happy to be moving forward, but I also want to continue, and not stop here."

For Venus, her perseverance and willingness to keep playing, through the losses and the victories, prove again that success on the court is often what we say it is, no matter what the final score of a match reads. If the sport is indeed one for a lifetime, then it's very clear that 2015 is just another chapter on that journey for Venus, one that we, as tennis fans, are lucky enough to continue sharing with her.


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