LONDON, Great Britain – No.10 Venus Williams was put to the test by Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka, but the five-time champion stayed solid to round out the last spot in the fourth round of Wimbledon.
Making her 20th appearance at Wimbledon – the most among active players – Venus drew from all her years of experience to edge past the determined teenager, 7-6(3), 6-4.
Osaka started out the match tentatively against her childhood idol Venus, though the nerves probably had more to do with playing on the cavernous Court No.1 on her Wimbledon debut.
“I’m kind of honored [to be playing Venus], because I don’t think I would have started playing tennis if Venus and Serena weren’t there for me growing up,” Osaka said ahead of the match.
“I super-love Venus, but Serena was always my No.1. I don’t think anyone could become ‘the next Serena or Venus.’ I just feel like they’re legends.”
Though Venus took advantage of a handful of Osaka's unforced errors to grab an early break, Osaka recovered strongly from 4-1 down to level the match and force a tiebreaker.
Under fire from the Japanese’s heavy pace, Venus quickly trailed 3-0 in the tiebreaker, but she held her nerve to reel off the next seven points straight and escape with the first set.
Osaka hit the reset button in the second, and a trio of double faults from Venus in the same service game at 2-1 gave her an early look at some break points. But seven-time Grand Slam winner held firm to bat them away. Another opportunity came and went for Osaka at 3-3, when she was a point away from holding serve at 30-15 but a flubbed volley gave Venus an edge back into the game.
Venus took the decisive break right then, defending her advantage to wrap up the match after an hour and 25 minutes on court.
With the victory, Venus extends her Wimbledon winning streak against teenagers to an imperious 16-2, with her last defeat to a teen coming in 2004.
And, at 37 years and 29 days old, Venus is now the oldest player to advance to the fourth round at the All England Club since Martina Navratilova’s run to the final in 1994 at 37 years and 258 days old.
Up next, she'll take on Ana Konjuh on Manic Monday for a spot in the quarterfinals.
More to follow...
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