Serena Williams’ hopes for a 24th career Grand Slam title may have been dashed at Wimbledon on Tuesday as she injured her right leg and had to retire from her first-round match against former Top 30 player Aliaksandra Sasnovich, but Venus Williams came out on top in her opener against former Top 20 player Mihaela Buzarnescu, battling more than two and a half hours to win, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

It was Venus’ 90th career win at Wimbledon (90-17). She has the fourth-most career wins at Wimbledon for a woman in the Open Era, trailing only Martina Navratilova (120-14), Serena (98-13) and Chris Evert (96-15).

And speaking of the number 90, this is also the 90th major Venus has played in her career, the record for most majors played in the Open Era by any man or woman. The American played her first major as a 16-year-old at Roland Garros in 1997.

She was asked afterwards what keeps her motivated after so many years.

“I don’t know. I answer this question a lot,” Venus said. “You know, good at what I do. You can’t win them all. Life is about how you handle challenges. Each point is a challenge on the court. No one gives you anything.

I like to think I handle my challenges well.”

Venus and Wimbledon have been synonymous over the last few decades—she’s a five-time champion at the event, winning it in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008, and she’s also been to four more finals in 2002, 2003, 2009 and 2017 (finishing runner-up to Serena in the first three, then to Garbine Muguruza four years ago).


The 41-year-old Venus turned pro as a 14-year-old in 1994

The 41-year-old Venus turned pro as a 14-year-old in 1994

Tuesday’s match against Buzarnescu was on Court 3—she was asked afterwards if she was disappointed, as a five-time champion, not to be on one of the main show courts.

“I wasn’t disappointed. I’m here to play. I’m here to play on whatever court I’m put on. As long as I win on that court, that’s all I care about,” she replied. “Court 3 is quite a nice court. I have a lot of great memories on that court, singles and doubles. To me it was like going home.

“Whatever happens happens. All good to me. But thank you for your sentiment.”

Venus will play the No. 21 seed, Ons Jabeur, in the second round on Wednesday. Jabeur is tied with Aryna Sabalenka for most WTA match wins this year—Sabalenka is 30-10 this year, Jabeur 30-11.

“Ons I would say is one of my favorite people on tour,” Venus said. “Honestly, she’s just breaking down barriers. The first woman from her country to do anything that she’s doing. She just won her first tournament, so she’s got to be feeling great.

“I just think you’re going to see a whole ‘nother generation of women from North Africa coming into tennis. It’s going to be all owed to her. I think she’s inspiring so many people, including me.”

Venus and Jabeur's second-round clash marks their first meeting.