Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Venus Williams: The tennis star with 'nothing to lose'

March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1912 GMT (0312 HKT)
Venus Williams is hoping for success at the Miami Open.
Venus Williams is hoping for success at the Miami Open.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Venus Williams back in action at Miami Open this week
  • The 33-year-old feeling good despite battle with Sjogren's syndrome
  • Ranked 31 in the world and has won 45 WTA titles
  • Aiming to play at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games

See the full interview with Venus Williams on Open Court this week. Click here for show times.

(CNN) -- All athletes have ups and downs in their career, but few have touched the troughs that Venus Williams has experienced.

Having topped the tennis rankings, winning Wimbledon five times and her home U.S. Open twice, she has had to rebuild her career after succumbing to injuries and a debilitating autoimmune disease.

But those rocky moments are providing a powerful motivation for the 33-year-old.

"I have to say I feel more confident on the court than I have in my life," Williams told CNN's Open Court ahead of the Miami Open which starts Wednesday.

Serena Williams' best move?
Serena: Venus was a great role model
Serena Williams: 'I'm in awe' of Venus
Tennis star Venus Williams has relaunched her clothing label EleVen ahead of the U.S. Open. The 32-year-old took time out of her playing career to graduate from fashion school.
Tennis star Venus Williams has relaunched her clothing label EleVen ahead of the U.S. Open. The 32-year-old took time out of her playing career to graduate from fashion school.
'Better than 10'
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
Venus Williams\' fashion highs and lows Venus Williams' fashion highs and lows

"I think it's because I have really been to the bottom, so once you get that far down and you get back up, you realize you really have nothing to lose. "

Not since 2008, when she won her seventh grand slam on the grass courts of Wimbledon, has Williams tasted success at the sport's biggest events.

She has struggled since being diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome -- an autoimmune disorder which causes joint pain and can deplete energy levels -- which she revealed publicly when pulling out during the 2011 U.S. Open.

By the end of that year she had plummeted outside the top 100 in the world rankings and faded into the background as her sister Serena -- who had to recover from potentially fatal blood clots on the lungs -- strengthened her reputation as the leading force in women's tennis.

While Serena has now won 17 grand slam titles, Venus has fought a very difficult battle -- coming to terms with her new condition, while trying to compete at the highest levels of the sport.

Her hard work was last month rewarded in Dubai, where she collected the 45th WTA title of her career and helped to quash doubts over her ability to compete against the very best.

A new vegan diet and an inexhaustible determination to overcome the syndrome has breathed new life into her tennis.

Such is Williams' confidence that she has already set her sights on competing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Now ranked 31st, she has a special relationship with the Summer Games, having won four gold medals including the singles title in 2000.

The other three came after teaming up with her sister at Sydney, Beijing and most recently, London two years ago.

And while the calling of the Copacabana may be some way down the line, Williams is adamant she'll be ready for Brazil.

"The Olympics have been the most special moment for me and Serena in our lives," she said.

"Playing doubles as well has been amazing. I get to play with my sister and we get along and support each other.

"So the Olympics is definitely on our radar. It's only a couple of years away -- we think we can get there."

Read: Venus ends title drought

Read: Venus' style revival

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1208 GMT (2008 HKT)
Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.
Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
A year that began in uncertainty for Roger Federer ended with a historic title for the 17-time grand slam champion and his country.
November 27, 2014 -- Updated 1716 GMT (0116 HKT)
The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
French Tennis player Rene Lacoste, one of France's 'Four Musketeers' who won the Davis Cup in 1932, at Wimbledon. He is wearing his embroidered crocodile motif. Original Publication: People Disc - HH0434 (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 0636 GMT (1436 HKT)
Marin Cilic follows in the footsteps of his coach Goran Ivanicevic by claiming a grand slam crown for Croatia, winning the U.S. Open.
September 14, 2014 -- Updated 1334 GMT (2134 HKT)
Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.
Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Canada and tennis? Really? Yup. The North American tennis power balance is swinging away from the States.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1252 GMT (2052 HKT)
As a player he was as fiery as his hair -- and as Novak Djokovic's coach, Boris Becker says he has to battle to keep his emotions in check.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1102 GMT (1902 HKT)
Tennis great Boris Becker says he was stunned by the level of criticism he received after being appointed as Novak Djokovic's coach.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1101 GMT (1901 HKT)
"I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
When Agnieszka Radwanska refused to look her opponent in the eye after losing at Wimbledon, it raised more than eyebrows.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 0114 GMT (0914 HKT)
It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 0746 GMT (1546 HKT)
He's regularly voted France's favorite famous person, but many of the nation's youth have "no idea" about his glorious sporting past
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.
ADVERTISEMENT