MONTRÉAL, Canada - From the US to the UK and China to Australia, Venus Williams has won matches all over the world in her illustrious WTA career. But there was one country missing from her collection, a country that hosts one of the biggest tournaments in the world year after year after year...
It's Canada, and Williams finally put an end to that dubious stat on Tuesday.
And it was against a player who has given her big trouble in the past, too. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova had beaten her twice, in back-to-back weeks in fact, at Tokyo and Beijing back in 2009. Early on it seemed like she was after a little revenge, as she stormed through the first set this time, 6-1.
Pavlyuchenkova found her range in the second set. Belting her groundstrokes with authority, she held a marathon service game to go up 3-2 then broke for 4-2, and a few games later pocketed the set.
Things looked dead even at the beginning of the third set as the two players held serve through the first four games. But from 2-all Williams rolled off four games in a row to take it, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.
And it wasn't just her first time winning a match in Canada - this is her first time in Montréal.
"It's 2014. I can't believe that I've never been here," Williams said after the match.
"I've been excited all summer about coming to Montréal. It's a new city, a new place. I've heard so much about the city, how it has a European flare. So finally, 20 years after I turned pro, I'm here!"
And how did she feel about the match?
"It felt awesome," Williams said. "It was a tough draw for both of us. We're both obviously very good players. She's also a dangerous player for the top players as well, because she can just do everything well. When she's on, it's sometimes very difficult to stop her. So it felt good to get through it.
"Hopefully I can build on this momentum for the rest of the week."
Awaiting Williams in the next round is Kazakhstani qualifier Yulia Putintseva, who took out the No.12 seed, Flavia Pennetta, in her first round match the night before. It will be a first-time meeting.
"I'll never underestimate anyone," Williams said. "She came through the qualifying. She beat Flavia, who has had an amazing year, coming back from injury, and another powerful, wise player.
"She must be playing well, so I've got to be ready."