Three-time Olympian Venus Williams says she has her eye on defending her Olympic doubles gold medal with sister Serena in Rio de Janiero in 2016. Venus will be 36 by then, but she says that won’t stop her from one last push toward an Olympic games.
‘‘That’s the highlight of my career, being an Olympian,’’ Venus told reporters in Perth, where she’s competing alongside John Isner at the Hopman Cup. ‘‘I can’t even describe the feeling, so I’d like to feel that one more time.
‘‘It’s three-and-a-half years away, so I have to keep my body oiled up and going until that time.”
While the sisters’ desire has been questioned in the past — their penchant for non-tennis pursuits such as fashion and business fueled those critiques — it’s hard to argue they’ve been anything but committed to the sport over the last three years. At 31, Serena is at the top of her game, having just completed a year that rivals her historic 2002 season, which saw her win three Slams and subsequently complete the “Serena Slam” the following year when she won the Australian Open and held all four majors at once.
Meanwhile, Venus battled back from a six-month absence after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome just so she could qualify for the London Games, which she did. She then capped off her year by winning her first WTA title in over two and a half years in Luxembourg at the end of the season.
Rio has clearly been a topic of discussion for both Serena and Venus since London. Venus and Serena have won four gold medals apiece (one each in singles and three in doubles), making them the record holders for most gold medals won by a tennis player, male or female (next on the list is Great Britain’s Reginald Doherty, who won three gold medals at the 1900 and 1908 Olympics).
“It’s our main goal,” Serena said last fall, during an offseason visit to Nigeria. “We were talking … about how we can’t wait to get to Rio. And obviously, bearing that we’re both healthy, that’s our goal to be there.”