PARIS (Reuters) - The French Open has not produced a lot of happy memories for Venus Williams in recent times, but now that she's reached the third round for the first time in six years, the American hopes her 2016 adventure won't come to an abrupt end.
"It feels like I want to keep going. At this stage in my life, in my career, it's like you don't want to lose early," the seven-times grand slam champion said after walloping fellow American Louisa Chirico 6-2 6-1.
It is the kind of punishment her younger sister, world number one Serena, metes out on a regular basis, but after matching Serena's winning second-round scoreline on Thursday, Venus was eager to cherish her moment in the sun.
"I'm just always looking to play better, be consistent, be aggressive, and have that combination," said the 2002 Roland Garros runner up.
Since reaching the last 16 here in 2010, Venus has made it to at least the quarter-finals at the three other grand slams. But having been diagnosed with the debilitating Sjogren's syndrome in 2011, playing on the slow red clay has proved to be a particularly difficult challenge for the 35-year-old.
Hence this year, the ninth seed is simply counting her blessings.
"When I step out on the court, it's of course never going to be an easy match for me, but it's never going to be easy for my opponent as well," Venus said after setting up a third-round showdown with French hopeful Alize Cornet.
"I'm just grateful I think with every year that passes and every moment that I play, I'm grateful for this experience and
"What else could I ask for, really? I'm very happy with
what happens, win, lose, or draw. Of course I like to win and I prepare for wins, but it's been beautiful to do what I love for a long time."
Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Larry King