At 34, she is the oldest female player left in the ladies’ singles draw following the departure of Kimiko Date-Krumm on Monday but it was another day, another victory for former Wimbledon champion Venus Williams.
The five-time ladies' singles title holder needed three sets to advance to the second round with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 over Spain's world No.56 Maria-Teresa Torro-Flo in a match that spanned one hour and six minutes.
The last time the seven-time Grand Slam winner graced the SW19 lawns was during the 2012 Olympics – when she won a gold medal with sister Serena – but shortly after the match the American joked that she did not have enough Wimbledon titles to her name.
Williams, who was diagnosed with auto immune condition Sjogren's Syndrome in 2011, declared it was "fantastic" to be back playing on the turf that has proved a happy hunting ground for her over the past 17 years and insisted she is still motivated. “I’ve been on a lot of lay-offs,” she said.
The Florida resident, who is partnering Serena in a bid to win her sixth Ladies' Doubles title here and missed last year’s event due to injury, admitted she’d love to add to her Wimbledon trophy collection.
“You’ve got to stay hungry,” she insisted. “I try to advance... every round, that’s all that matters to me.”
Currently ranked 30 in the world, Williams fired down 11 aces during the duel which was played on the intimate stage of No.2 Court. In the beginning there were lots of similarities between the women who are separated by just 23 places in the world rankings.
Both sported strapping on their right thigh, both wore visors, both played with Wilson rackets and it wasn’t until the seventh game in the opening set that both found their form producing breathtaking baseline rallies played at blistering pace.
Williams stole ahead two games later when the Spaniard over-hit a ball awarding her a break point. A double fault then gifted the 34-year-old the game and when Torro-Flo hit a string of errors in the subsequent game the set escaped her.
The 22-year-old claimed the second set when a Williams forehand floated out of court after clipping the net but she was unable to maintain the momentum in the third.
Williams broke midway through the third with a blistering backhand winner. From there on Torro-Flo failed to win another game. “I think my opponent played amazing,” Williams said. “She was just playing so well, going for everything. So it was definitely a challenge today against someone who is just playing such inspired tennis. It’s definitely a nice start.”
Reflecting on her health, Williams pointed out that Sjogren's Syndrome was something she had to live with. “On a daily basis I’m trying to get the best out of myself. That’s all I can ask, is to get the best out of me. I never compare myself to anybody else."
However, the No.30 seed added that she was not looking for anyone to believe in her and dismissed the suggestion that she'd thought about surprising a few people in the draw.
"You have to believe in yourself these days," she insisted. "I have nothing to prove, nothing to hide, nothing to lose. So for me it’s about continually playing better and getting back up every single time when things might not go my way. It’s not going to go the way of 127 people in this draw. It’s just going to go the way of one person. So you just keep going.”
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