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Williams sisters get their doubles campaign under way

Serena and Venus Williams share a laugh on Day Three
by Kate Battersby
Wednesday 25 June 2014

Venus Williams crowned a very good – if rather long – day at the coalface on Wednesday in the best possible way. Having opened play at 11.30am on Court No.3 by downing Kurumi Nara in the second round of the singles, she returned just after 7pm with her sister Serena to fight past determined first round doubles opposition in the form of Olga Kalashnikova and Oksana Savchuk. As twilight fell on a cool evening, the sisters – with 13 Slam doubles titles to their names including five at Wimbledon alone – had to come back from 0-3 down in the deciding set to win 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 in an hour and 55 minutes.

The Williams’ last Slam doubles victory was on the SW19 lawns two years ago, and they had lost their only previous doubles outing this year in the United Arab Emirates. With a ranking of 88, they are seeded No.8 here in a nod to their record at the All England Club.

It should not be overlooked that the two women now have a combined age of 66, in contrast to 26-year-old Savchuk and 23-year-old Kalashnikova. The years may not always favour the sisters now – both arrived on court in long-sleeved tops, with Venus additionally in capris, none of which extra warmth was required by the opposition – but the trade is that all that experience does no harm at all. Moreover, time seems to make no impression on their competitive hunger, with both sisters determined to wring the very most from their careers.

Venus held her opening serve, the first game of the match, so quickly to love that the clock had yet to register even one minute. Amid some fabulous volleying exchanges they broke Kalashnikova’s serve for 4-2. But the Russian-Ukrainian pair were up for the fight and not only levelled but powered on, increasing their service accuracy. At five-all Serena attempted a backhand down the line which fell way short of requirements, and moments later a Kalashnikova volley yielded the crucial break.

But at the start of the second the sisters combined brilliantly to break for 3-1. With Serena pounding the ball from the baseline and Venus doling out the punishment at the net, the set went by in a flash. Yet at the start of the third confusion reigned as the two literally bumped into each other at the net, while Savchuk and Kalashnikova capitalised to go 3-0 up. Serena expressed her frustration with a mighty smash at the Russian to hold serve, which drew a particularly withering look from Savchuk. But Serena was accelerating into super-aggressive mode and the sisters levelled. Indeed, at 3-3 her impetus was such as she chased a backhand wide that she ended up in the lap of a startled spectator at courtside. Cue laughter from Serena, Venus and their mother Oracene who was in the stands.

It did not alter the focus of “Team Williams”, as umpire Julie Kjendlie labelled the Americans. They broke again for 5-4, and the result was sealed on the first match point as Serena punched away the winning volley.

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