LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Frustrated after her 2010 campaign was cut short by a lingering knee injury, Venus Williams has clear-cut goals for next year with elite mixed doubles success uppermost in her sights.
The stylish American has piled up 21 grand slam titles during her glittering career but still needs two more singles crowns and two more in the mixed to complete the full set of three in each of the four majors.
“The one thing that seems elusive for me is the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open,” world number five Williams, a seven-time grand slam singles champion, told Reuters on Thursday.
“I’ve gotten close to winning the singles at the Australian (Open) and the French (Open) so I feel like that’s within my reach. But the mixed, that’s going to be the hard part.”
The 30-year-old, sidelined since the U.S. Open in August when she lost in the semi-finals to the eventual champion Kim Clijsters, triumphed in the mixed with Justin Gimelstob at the Australian and French Opens in 1998.
However Williams has never reached the mixed final at the U.S. Open while she and compatriot Bob Bryan were beaten in 2006 on the only occasion when she has played in the championship match at Wimbledon.
“It’s almost impossible to play singles, doubles and mixed doubles at one grand slam and I would love to hold all three titles at all of the majors,” said the American, who wore a bright pink T-shirt and a cut-off green leotard.
Williams officially ended her 2010 season early last month when she pulled out of the China Open, a decision that also ruled her out of the Fed Cup final between hosts the United States and holders Italy.
She has since been working hard in rehabilitation to get ready for her 2011 campaign.
“I’ve been getting back to my championship form, slowly but surely,” said Williams, who spoke after demonstrating an EA SPORTS Active workout with several young women at the YWCA Hollywood Studio Club. “Hopefully I will be hitting balls pretty soon. I have been getting stronger and doing my best to get ready for next year. It’s tough being on the sidelines but it’s also encouraging because I will come back with a new fire.”
Williams has not watched a single tennis match on television since her season ended, although she was tempted to monitor this month’s FedCup final in San Diego where Italy triumphed 3-1.
“It’s been tough to be out so I decided I couldn’t watch any more tennis,” she said. “I desperately wanted to turn on the television and watch the Fed Cup but it was like: ‘At this point, maybe I should just let it go.’
“It was frustrating. But I really want to play the tie next year, the U.S. against Belgium in February,” Williams added, referring to the world group first round match-up. “I have to be healthy but I would love to be there.”
Also looming large in her sights is the 2012 London Olympics where she and her younger sister Serena plan to defend the women’s doubles crown they claimed in Beijing.
“And there’s also mixed doubles in the London schedule so if I don’t get that title as well, then we’re going to have another elusive one to chase,” Williams said with a laugh.
“Serena and I will have to be in the best shape of our lives for London. We have to be machines to play in three events. It’s something like 14 matches in eight days. We had better be ready.”
The Williams sisters also won the women’s doubles title at the 2000 Sydney Olympics where Venus had her first taste of the showpiece event in global sport.
“Anything that I had dreamed of doing on the court, that was beyond it and I have cherished every Olympics ever since,” Venus recalled.