WIMBLEDON, England – Time and again after losing a point, Venus Williams rolled her eyes, slumped her shoulders and let out a shriek of dismay that echoed through Centre Court, reverberating off its roof.
Facing the most, uh, experienced woman in the Wimbledon field – 40-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan – Williams was mired in a three-set struggle that lasted nearly three hours Wednesday, a tight, high-quality contest brimming with the sort of at-the-net, classic grass-court play seen so rarely nowadays.
“She doesn’t play anywhere near her age,” Williams said.
Williams, a five-time champion at the All England Club, mustered every bit of her competitive drive and considerable talent to pull out a 6-7 (6), 6-3, 8-6 comeback win over Date-Krumm and reach the third round.
“She played unbelievable today. I thought she had some luck on her side, too, with net cords, balls hitting lines. I just thought today was a perfect storm for her to try to get a win,” Williams said.
“Thankfully,” Williams added, “I had some answers.”
None more effective than her serve, in the late going, anyway. That stroke delivered 12 aces, helped Williams escape several jams and was clocked at 120 mph even in her final service game. Contrast that with Date-Krumm’s serves, mostly about 80 mph. One was 65 mph.
Top-ranked Rafael Nadal beat Ryan Sweeting of the United States 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, totaling 38 winners.
Andy Roddick’s strong serve was clicking again in a 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Victor Hanescu of Romania. The No. 8-seeded American hit 15 aces, saved the only break point he faced and limited his unforced errors to six.
Other winners included No. 4 Andy Murray, No. 9 Gael Monfils and 72nd-ranked Alex Bogomolov Jr. of the United States, who reached the third round in his first trip to Wimbledon by knocking off No. 25 Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina 6-0, 6-3, 6-4.
The only seeded woman to lose was No. 30 Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States, who caused a stir with her Lady Gaga-inspired jacket that had white tennis balls attached to it, then was beaten 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 by 133rd-ranked Misaki Doi of Japan.