London: Venus Williams insists she has no intention of turning her back on tennis after the American`s shock defeat to Tsvetana Pironkova at Wimbledon raised questions about her appetite for the sport.
Venus failed to make the final at the All England Club for the first time since 2006 as Pironkova, an unseeded Bulgarian ranked 82nd in the world, stormed to a remarkable 6-2, 6-3 victory over the five-time champion.
Losing to a player who had never been past the second round of a Grand Slam before this year`s Wimbledon was bad enough, but the lacklustre manner of Venus`s defeat was even more concerning.
Usually so dominant on grass, the second seed made too made careless errors and allowed Pironkova, who only played on this surface for the first time five years ago, to move her around the court far too easily.
It was the kind of display which suggested her mind might be elsewhere - after all Venus celebrated her 30th birthday just before the Championships started and has plenty of off-court interests to occupy her.
But she was quick to play down any talk that she might consider retiring in the near future and vowed to come back stronger than ever at the US Open in late August.
"I can definitely still win Grand Slams. I`ve done it before and have the experience to do it. So that`s not a doubt for me," she said.
"Obviously losses like this aren`t fun but I`ll be back at the US Open.”
"Why wouldn`t I want to pursue this? I`m pretty good at it most days. I didn`t seem to be the best tennis player in this match, but for the most part, I rock and roll this game.”
"I`ll give it up when I`m just terrible. It would take more than just a few bad days in a year to make me quit tennis. So that`s not even in the equation."
Venus, who has won seven Grand Slam titles since turning pro in 1994, looked bereft of ideas as her trademark power game failed to overwhelm Pironkova.
And for a fierce competitor like the American, going out in such a tame manner was unacceptable.
But she insists there is still enough fire in her belly to ensure days like that remain few and far between.
"I work hard every day, day in, day out. I hate losing. I think anytime you accept losing, it`s definitely a good time to walk away," she said.
"At this time I feel like I`m playing great tennis, but obviously I have to avoid having days like this. It`s not a good thing for me.”
"Not be able to bring my best tennis and to just make that many errors is disappointing in a match where I feel like I wasn`t overpowered hit off the court or anything.”
"I just kind of let myself exit. So obviously I`m not pleased with this result, but I have to move on. What else can I do? Unless I have a time machine, which I don`t."