Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  By By Greg Couch  |  Last updated 1/13/14

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 27: Venus Williams of the United States of America serves in her quarterfinal match against Na Li of China during day ten of the 2010 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 27, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
It is now just painful to watch Venus Williams. It used to be joyful. She can play as well as she ever did, but can't do it two days in a row. Or two minutes in a row. Or, if she can, then you don't know which two days, which two minutes. She doesn't either. Williams lost in the first round of the Australian Open on Sunday, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 to Ekaterina Makarova. The easy narrative is that Williams is 33, and that all of the things that come with old age in tennis are now coming to her. But it isn't that easy. And that's part of what makes it so painful watching someone who has meant so much to the game and done it so elegantly for so long. Williams has completely modernized her game. Yes, at 33. Her serve and forehand don't look the same as they used to. She slaps at them now with a looping follow-through, rather than using the old, classic fluid arm movements. Her backhand is different, too. She was slicing forehands at times, mixing up shots. She hit dropshots. She has never d...
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