Thursday 18 July 2019

Venus defies sands of time to award herself an A-plus

Venus Williams plays a forehand shot during her Ladies' Singles second round match against Kurumi Nara of Japan
Venus Williams plays a forehand shot during her Ladies' Singles second round match against Kurumi Nara of Japan

Gavin Mairs

Venus Williams may be the oldest competitor to reach the third round of the women's singles at Wimbledon but the five-times champion continues to rage against the dying of the light both on and off the court.

Williams (34) found herself 3-0 down in the first set of her match against Kurumi Nara of Japan, a player 12 years her junior.

But the American (right) had more than enough power, and nous, to ride out some testing moments to secure an ultimately comfortable 7-6 (7/4) 6-1 victory on Court No 3.

"Wisdom has served me well," said Williams, whose last triumph at Wimbledon was six years ago when she defeated her sister Serena in the final. She has not made the second week of a Grand Slam since reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2011.

"I want to be out there," Williams said. "I'm not about the easy thing. Life is a challenge. When I leave tennis, I want it to be on my own terms. I want to know that I rose to every challenge. I want to look back with no regrets.

"I have worn my sunscreen so I haven't aged terribly. My knees are very tight, not saggy. And the crow's feet have been kept away. So I'll give myself an A-plus."

In fact it was her 22-year-old Japanese opponent whose body let her down. Nara, who is the smallest player in the top 100 and at 5ft 1in, giving away a foot against Williams, raged against a thigh injury that forced her to take a medical time out having lost the first-set tie break.

Williams had turned up nine minutes late and in as many minutes she was three games down. However, she started firing down serves consistently at more than 110mph – at least 20mph faster than her opponent – and won the next five games.

World No 41 Nara broke back to take the first set into a tie break, but after an early mini-break was blown away to go down 7-4.

The start of the second set was delayed as Nara took a medical timeout and returned with her leg bandaged. The disruption seemed more detrimental to Williams, who lost her first service game of the second set but then upped her game to cruise through.

Caroline Wozniacki, meanwhile, hammered Britain's Naomi Broady 6-3 6-2. © Daily Telegraph, London)


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