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Venus looking good for Olympics spot

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Originally published on: 18/05/12 00:00

The five-times Wimbledon champion’s performances in Rome this week should see her climb to No.52 or better in the world rankings next week. That would leave Williams as the third highest-ranked American singles player. If she retains that position by the cut-off date of June 10, it would be sufficient to earn her a place in the Olympic tournament.

The rules for the Olympics say that a maximum of six women from each country can take part. There is a maximum of four singles players and two doubles teams for each nation.

Serena Williams, who is set to climb to No.5 in the rankings next week, looks certain to book her Olympic place, but the positions of the Americans beneath her could well change over the next three weeks. The current order is Christina McHale (No.36), Vania King (No.57), Varvara Lepchenko (No.59), Venus Williams (No.63), Jamie Hampton (No.87) and Sloane Stephens (No.92).

Venus revealed in Rome that she had begun her comeback in March this year, following a six-month break in the wake of her diagnosis with Sjogren's syndrome, an auto-immune disease, with the specific intention of qualifying for the Olympics.  “I wasn't ready, but I needed to get points for the Olympics,” Williams said, saying that in other circumstances she might not have returned before Wimbledon.

Having reached the quarter-finals in Miami and Charleston in her first two tournaments, Venus has also performed well on clay, which has been her most difficult surface in the past. She won only one match in Madrid before losing to Angelique Kerber but enjoyed her best win of the year in Rome when she beat Sam Stosur, the world No.5, in straight sets, having earlier knocked out Simona Halep and Ekaterina Makarova.

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