No end in sight, Venus vows

NEW YORK, Sept 10, 2010 (AFP) - Venus Williams has not reached the US Open final in eight years, but the oldest Grand Slam semi-finalist since 2005 vows that she is not yet done contending for the biggest titles in tennis.

US third seed Venus Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, lost Friday to defending champion Kim Clijsters 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 in a US Open semi-final as the Belgian advanced to play Russian Vera Zvonareva in Saturday's final.

Kim Clijsters (L) and Venus Williams shake hands at the net after their match on September 10, 2010. AFP

Williams was the first 30-year-old to go so deep in a Slam since France's Mary Pierce at the 2005 US Open despite not playing between Wimbledon and the US Open due to a left knee injury.

"I definitely feel like I'll be back next year," Williams said. "This is what I do and I feel like I played great tennis even with minimal preparation," Williams said.

"I may have lost the match, but that's just this match. There will be others."

Williams didn't see herself as a champion for the 30-and-older-set against younger talent but the five-time Wimbledon winner made it clear she doesn't see herself fading away just because she has not won the US Open since 2001.

"As long as I'm striking the ball well I'm going to keep playing," Williams said. "At this point I'm striking the ball well, so there is no end in sight."

Had she gotten past Belgian second seed Clijsters, Williams was in a strong position to claim an eighth Grand Slam singles title against seventh seed Zvonareva in the championship match.

Williams has a 7-1 career record against Zvonareva, having dropped only one set to the Russian since losing their first meeting in the fourth round of the 2003 French Open.

Had she won, Williams would have returned to the US Open final for the first time since a 2002 loss to sister Serena, an eight-year gap between appearances that would have been the longest in the Open Era that began in 1968.

Williams stumbled in the tie-breaker with a chance to seize the victory, double faulting on her first two serves and netting a pair of forehands.

"I played a lot of good points but obviously in the tie-breaker I wasn't able to play as well as I wanted. I had some errors and she played some good tennis."

Clijsters hit a crucial lob winner in the penultimate game where Williams surrendered a service break, using the wind that baffled Williams to her advantage.

"I was trying to be aggressive in that last game and I came in three out of five points. Unfortunately it didn't work," Williams said. "She was playing against the wind so it just blows the ball back in.

"There's not so much I could do on those points. It was kind of a little bit of bad luck for me. I just wish I could have played the bigger points a little better."

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