“I think it’s an incredible opportunity and there’s no real testimony without a test. So it’s not hard to make peace with it. It happened, now move on and make the best of it. Even if you dwell on it, it isn’t going to change the outcome it just staggers with the process of recovery.”Even at a young age, Velleman’s career has been about scrapping hard. He forged a reputation trying to steal ball off much bigger opposition in better-resourced sides. It can boil over – in February he earned a red card for an elbow to a Cheetahs try-scorer, a moment he will have learnt from – but the tenacity is what has seen him come back from injury torment before.Digging in: Kings battle against Glasgow this season (Getty Images)So can he explain what he has learnt on the sidelines?“I’ll need more than just a page in a book,” he laughs. “The main thing has just been the psychology behind injury. How strong you can come back with a new mindset is incredible and hopefully I’ll be able to show that off in the future.“For other injured players I’d say: don’t feel too sorry for yourself, it could always have been worse. The sooner you get your recovery plan in motion and do not dwell on what happened, the sooner you’ll be back.”Which sounds like the ‘pcoket battleship’ is already tearing into his recovery. The young Southern Kings flanker has picked up a series of freak injuries Long-term injury: CJ Velleman and his run of bad luckSometimes, bad luck just follows you around.Thrust into the intensity of Super Rugby in 2016, CJ Velleman looked born to play at that level, with the fetcher earning rave reviews and even being compared to Sam Cane and David Pocock. But after making good progress in his recovery from a long-term knee injury sustained that same year, Velleman was struck down again, damaging the same knee at training in 2017. In the year the Kings pivoted to Pro14 rugby, he did not play a minute.The highly-rated loosie made his long-awaited Pro14 debut in his side’s first victory of the 2018-19 season, against Glasgow Warriors in September 2018, but suspension and another leg inury meant that he has been limited to just ten league games in total. Yet, at only 24, there was a confidence he could begin to realise his immense potential.The battler was set to make another comeback against Edinburgh on 4 January 2020 after that last leg injury. He was training fully. Then disaster struck. Again.“CJ was involved in a freak accident at training when he slipped and tore his ACL on his left knee,” Kings head of athletic performance Wayne Taylor told the world. The cruel run continued.Hanging out: Velleman (left) at a photocall in 2017 (Getty Images)When asked what the hell happened, Velleman tells Rugby World: “I often dwell on this because all of my main knee injuries have happened before any contact, so all of them have been kinda freakish to be honest with you. I guess it’s just a run of super unlucky blows that will hopefully turn now!“I just keep reminding myself that I’m still super blessed that it’s not career-ending yet. I still have the opportunity to go back in nine months and give it another go. Until the doctor says I must consider stopping, I still have an opportunity to go back to an awesome union.Related: Read Henry Trinder on recovery from long-term injury in the new Rugby World LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS Grabbing hold: CJ Velleman against Benetton in 2018 (Inpho) To read our long-read on long-term injury, check out the new issue of Rugby World.Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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FORMER world number one Serena Williams came from a set down to beat her sister Venus 3-6 6-3 6-4 and reach the quarter-finals of the Top Seed Open.Serena also trailed 4-2 in the deciding set but claimed four straight games to win a high-quality match in Kentucky.It was the 31st competitive singles match between the sisters, with Serena now having won 19 times to Venus’ 12.“I honestly don’t know how I was able to pull it out at the end,” said 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena.“I have been losing a lot of those tight sets so I said to myself that I really needed to win, just for my game and my confidence.”Top seed Serena broke seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus, 40, in the first game of the match but faded to lose the first set 6-3 in 41 minutes, before taking the second by the same score in 50 minutes.Serena, 38, broke first in the final set but Venus fought back and looked to be on course for victory at 4-2 up.However, Serena, who also had to come from behind against Bernarda Pera in her opening match, hit some crucial winners to reach the last eight of her first tournament in six months.She will face either fellow American Shelby Rogers or Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez in the quarter-finals of the behind-closed-doors event.In Thursday’s first last-16 tie, Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann beat Ukrainian fifth seed Yulia Putintseva 6-2 6-2.“I didn’t come here to win for the first time in my career, I just came here to get some matches and see what happens,” added Serena, who is preparing to play in this year’s US Open, which starts on 31 August.Her chances of winning a 24th Grand Slam singles title in New York have been boosted by several top-20 players withdrawing from the event.Defending champion Bianca Andreescu, who beat Serena in last year’s final, became the latest to pull out of the tournament in New York on Thursday.(BBC Sport)