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Remembering Venus Williams’ Montreal Debut

by Melissa Boyd

July 20, 2023

Venus Williams continues to prove time and time again that she is an ageless wonder.

The 43-year-old legend will be returning to the National Bank Open presented by Rogers this summer, nine years after making her Montreal debut in 2014, some 20 years after beginning her illustrious WTA career.

It may have taken the older Williams sister a long time to pay a visit to IGA Stadium, but she fell in love with the city instantly and made quite the first impression by making a surprising run to the final during her Montreal debut. The 2014 draw featured the who’s who of women’s tennis at the time including Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, and Eugenie Bouchard who had just become the first Canadian to reach a Grand Slam singles final at Wimbledon. With that kind of depth, no one expected Venus to post a great result, but she managed to turn back the clock much to the delight of some of the most knowledgeable tennis fans in the world.

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She beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Yulia Putintseva, Angelique Kerber, and Carla Suarez Navarro to set up a much-anticipated showdown against Serena in the semifinals. In the end, it was big sister who got the better of little sister 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-3 in one of the most iconic and memorable matches in tournament history.

Even though she was unable to complete her dream week with a prestigious title that instead was won by Agnieszka Radwanska, Venus certainly left her mark during her maiden visit and Montreal stole her heart as well.

“I didn’t expect this kind of support,” Williams said after the final. “I felt like I was from, you know, Quebec. I might be a long-lost soul from Quebec.”

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Venus also indicated that Montreal rivals Rome as her favourite stop on Tour and she returned to the province a month later to play the tournament in Quebec City. While there, she even tried her hand at curling.

Given her love for the city, it’s only fitting that one of the game’s all-time greats will have the chance to play in Montreal once more and we’ll be sure to enjoy every minute of what might be her last appearance in front of fans who waited so long to see her for the first time. You can bet they will give her the kind of welcome that she deserves.