No.13 seed Venus Williams saved her best tennis for the end of each set to dispatch Kateryna Kozlova and advance into the second round of the Australian Open.
WTA Staff

MELBOURNE, Australia - An ageless Venus Williams played remarkable tennis in the high heat of the Australian Open, knocking out a game Kateryna Kozlova, 7-6(5), 7-5.

"Girl, I don't know," Venus joked when asked how she got the job done during her on-court interview. "I know how to play tennis, and I like to think I'm good at this. She hasn't had the years I've had, the grey hair I'm dyeing, the wrinkles I'm hiding."

Seeded No.13, Venus was playing just her second match of 2017 after withdrawing from the ASB Classic due to right-arm pain, and was taking on a tricky opponent in Kozlova, who took her to three sets at the US Open last summer. In an ironic twist, the 22-year-old was born the same year Venus turned pro back in 1994.

"You're trying to make me feel old!" joked Williams.

Kozlova served for the first set but the seven-time Grand Slam champion's experience shone through when it mattered most, breaking the young Ukrainian to win the ensuing tie-break.

"Just from the warm-up it looked like she was just ready to go, hitting it solid," she said in her post-match press conference. "I really have to give her a lot of credit for playing a match that was not a lot of errors and just relentless.

"I guess when I walk out there I have to expect that from my opponents and not an easy first round, but a great first round to get through, for sure."

Venus appeared to struggle with the heat at times, relying on ice towels to keep cool during the changeovers.

"I'm a Floridian, so I'm pretty good with heat," she admitted. "But obviously, if it's going to be hot, I think with players, you can train in the heat the week before. This last week it was kind of cool, actually, a lot of the time. So it's definitely a wildcard, like, total wildcard."

Despite losing some momentum in the second set, the American rebounded to take the last three games of the match and advance into the second round after just over two hours.

Up next for the former World No.1 is either Stefanie Voegele or Kurumi Nara.