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Venus sneaks thriller under the roof

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Originally published on: 22/06/11 16:50

Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams prevailed 6-7 6-3 8-6 in a magnificent encounter with 40-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm to reach the third round at the All England Club. 

With persistent rain delaying the start of play on all outside courts, the experienced duo, who have a combined age of 71, took centre stage under the Centre Court roof and duly served up a thriller.  

Venus, who at 6’2” is a good 10 inches taller than Krumm, strode out to court and towered over her opponent like a cruise liner to a tug boat, but the Japenese player did as any tug boat should and soon sped out in front.  

Breaking to love in the first game of the match, Krumm regularly attacked the net and threw in a series of deft touches and fine winners and quickly pulled up a 5-1 first set lead.

Struggling with the early onslaught, it wasn’t until the seventh game that Williams finally managed to hold serve. The boost she needed, the 31-year-old American won five games on the trot to take the first set to a tiebreak, but Krumm recovered to storm ahead again and this time she held on to her advantage. 

The seven-time Grand Slam champ hit back with a break in the third game of the second set, which proved enough to force a decider, and quickly went 2-0 ahead as Krumm appeared set to wilt. But rather than let Williams coast through to round three, the super-fit 40-year-old fought her way back into contention and levelled proceedings on serve.

A semi-finalist at Wimbledon all the way back in 1996, Krumm’s resistance was finally broken in the 14th game of the final set, when she handed over two-match opportunities and eventually succumbed to defeat after two hours and 55 minutes when her attempted pass drifted wide.

“She played so well,” admitted Williams. “Every ball hit the line and baseline. Right until the end she was attacking. I’m glad I came through.”

Playing under the Centre Court roof for the first time, the American, who secured a third round test against either Monica Niculescu or Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez with her win, added: “It was awesome under the roof. It’s definitely a little bit warmer, but it’s fantastic that we have one.”

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