Venus Williams dreams of playing into her 40s

Retirement is not a word Venus Williams will be uttering any time soon.

Despite being one of the oldest competitors on the women's Tour and having won almost everything there is to win in her sport, the American great still has plenty of dreams to fulfill.

Enjoying a career resurgence, the 36-year-old Williams has set her sights on competing at Tokyo 2020. It would be her sixth Olympics. She would be 40 years old.

"I'd love to," replied the five-time Olympian when asked by CNN whether she would take part in the next Olympics. "I've got to earn that spot and we'll see where life takes me but, at this point in time, I've got plans on being there."

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'An amazing experience'

At Rio 2016, the former world number one took her medal tally to a record-equaling five thanks to silver in the mixed doubles alongside compatriot Rajeev Ram.

With four golds and a silver in her Olympic collection, only Britain's Kitty McKane -- competing at the 1920 and 1924 Olympics -- has won as many Olympic medals in the sport as Williams.

"It was crazy, I had an amazing experience," said Williams of her summer in Brazil. "To be in Rio, to represent your country and to represent being a member of the world, that is the best part of the Olympics."

The former world number one's description of competing at major tournaments as an "addiction" helps explain her desire to continue playing into another decade.

"We spend our whole lives training for that one moment in time and if you're lucky enough to have more than one moment, you get a little bit addicted," said the seven-time grand slam champion.

"That competition, that challenge, that pressure -- it's a privilege to be there.

"So, while you're here, you go for it and when you're done, hopefully you can look back and say that it was a good career."

A stunning start

In a fairytale start to the year, Williams became the oldest woman to reach an Australian Open final in the Open era, and the second oldest to play a grand slam final.

Indeed, with a combined age of 71, January's Australian Open final between Venus and her sister Serena was the oldest women's grand slam final in the Open Era.

The world No.13 may have suffered a straight-sets loss to her younger sister in the all-Williams Melbourne final, but defeat has not taken the gloss off what was a remarkable run Down Under.

"It was really surreal," said Williams of the final which saw her sister claim a record 23rd major title.

"It was really emotional. It was a great experience. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way, except maybe that I was able to win the match but, outside of that, it was incredible."

Williams' achievements in Australia were all the more astonishing considering she was diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome in 2011 and had last reached a grand slam final in 2009.

The autoimmune disorder causes, among other things, fatigue and joint pain and has forced the American to reevaluate her lifestyle and everything she had once taken for granted.

"It's never easy, but anything worth having is usually something you have to work for," said Williams, who made her professional debut in 1994.

"I've definitely faced unexpected challenges, but I'm not going to be the first or the last person or athlete to overcome health issues to be their best so I look at it as something that hopefully encourages other people who are having chronic health issues."

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Her performance at the Australian Open has also given Williams a "ton of confidence" for the French Open in May.

"Majors is really where you want to shine and start off the year on your best foot," she said.

"It really kind of sets the tone and the trend for the rest of the year so I feel good."

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