Five-time champion Venus Williams was stretched to three sets, but defeated Sweden's Johanna Larsson to reach the second round at Wimbledon.
WTA Staff
July 2, 2018

LONDON, Great Britain - Five-time champion Venus Williams was pushed to start, but eased through in the end to reach the second round at Wimbledon on Monday.

The No.9 seed and last year's finalist came from a set down to defeat Sweden's Johanna Larsson, 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-1 and avoid her third career first round exit  at the All-England Club.

In her 17th career match against a Top 10 player, Larsson was looking to score just her third-ever victory, and her first in six matches.

The Swede's last win against a Top 10 opponent came nearly two years ago, when she upset Roberta Vinci in New Haven ahead of the US Open. 

"I really haven't played her before. She played well," Williams said after the match. "There were moments where I could have played better, and was just playing better in those moments in the last two sets."

The Nürnberger Versicherungscup champion came from a break down in the opening set and even served for it, before the seven-time major winner saved three set points to force a tiebreak. 

Once there, however, the Swede shook off the disappointment of losing her early opportunity and an early deficit, as she won the last six points of the opener to win just her third-ever set in eight career appearances at Wimbledon.

Larsson took advantage of an erratic start from the former World No.1, who hit six double faults and made 15 unforced errors in the opening set to just eight winners.

The World No.58 kept the pressure on in the early stage of the second set with a pair of contrasting holds, as she held after saving a break point to begin the set before pocketing an easier one to lead 2-1.

That proved to be the last game she'd win in the set, however, as the American's winner total soared to 16 - balanced with just 11 unforced errors - to pocket the last five games and force a decider. 

I've had an opportunity to be a champion in singles and doubles, so clearly those moments were extremely special. Each victory is exciting, and it's never a given. Each one is exhilarating, gives you a chance to hopefully get to the next one.
Venus Williams

The final set was all the No.9 seed, as she cruised through the first five games to stretch her run to 10 straight.

Though Larsson put up some final resistence to deny the five-time champion a bagel and create four total game points in the seventh game, aggressive tennis forced the Swede into errors and Williams sealed the match with a backhand winner.

The No.9 seed will next face Romanian qualifier Alexandra Dulgheru, who defeated Kristyna Pliskova in three sets.

"I'm not really sure if I've ever played her. If I did, I'm sure it was a competitive match. She's a real competitor. I know she's had some injuries, was in the top for a minute there until bad luck happened," the America assessed.

"I think it will probably be a similar match to today. I don't know what will happen on her side, but I will try my best on mine."