LONDON, England (AFP) — Venus Williams may be about to become the first American tennis star to feature in four Olympics, but she intends to keep playing until the 2016 Rio Games when she will be 36.
Williams, the singles gold medallist at Sydney in 2000, and doubles winner with sister Serena in 2000 and 2008 in Beijing, has no intention of calling it quits despite her world ranking having slumped to 69.
"I'm aiming for 2016. Serena and I both want to play there. I have played a lot of Olympics and to keep adding to them is amazing," said Venus after her first hit at Wimbledon on Monday.
Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus was a first round casualty at the Grand Slam event earlier this month, her worst defeat in south-west London since her 1997 debut.
But she and Serena then went on to win their fifth doubles title at the venue where the London Olympics tennis tournament is taking place.
"I had a great Wimbledon. I was very happy with the results and getting the doubles title. You can't win every one in singles," said Venus, whose build-up to Wimbledon had been hit by Sjogren's syndrome, an auto-immune disease, which left her lacking energy.
"Thankfully I have been able to be a champion here, so I am grateful for that and if I could triumph in the Olympics, that would be even more amazing."
Venus, 32, said that after her battle to regain her fitness and recover her ranking to boost her Olympic qualification hopes, she rated the London Games as the most important in her career.
"This is the most important Olympics I have ever played. It was definitely a fight to get here. Now I am an Olympian, I am very excited. As soon as I touched down, I just felt all the feelings of being an Olympian," she said.
"It would feel even sweeter now to win a fourth gold medal. But looking at that, I can't believe I actually did that, I'm like 'oh my god'.
"At the time, you just get in the zone but afterwards you can't believe it. So if it could happen again, I could make my country proud."
On Monday, Venus took part in the torch relay which made its way around the All England Club, taking it on from Britain's Andy Murray.
"It was so exciting. When I had the invite to carry the torch, I just couldn't believe it. I was just elated the whole time," she said.