MONTRÉAL, Canada - Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams rallied from an early break down to roll into the second round of the Rogers Cup, defeating compatriot Caroline Dolehide, 7-5, 6-1.
"I think she had a really great second serve," Venus said in her post-match press conference. "I think I got a better feel for it in the second set. In the first set, I was still figuring it out. I hadn't really seen her play."
Dolehide announced herself on the game's biggest stages back in March when she nearly beat World No.1 Simona Halep at the BNP Paribas Open, and enjoyed a similarly strong start against Williams on Monday before the five-time Wimbledon champion ran off 12 of the final 14 games of the match to advance after one hour and 17 minutes on court.
"I think maybe she had more of an advantage because she's probably seen me play more than I've played her. It was pretty close in the first set."
The Florida-based Williams made ultimately serene progress after falling behind 1-3 early on in the match, shaking off a tough ninth game to reel off three in a row to capture the opening set.
"It's pretty warm here, but it's even warmer in Florida. I'm on the court by 7AM in Florida, and try to be off by 9. That's the best way to put it."
As the 2014 finalist took a 5-0 lead in the second set, there was a brief delay as a lines official fell ill in the swelting Court Central conditions, but Williams steadied to serve out her spot in the second round.
"Heat illness is really brutal, so I hope she feels better. At that point you still have to stay focused on the match, try to stay warm, not cool down. You have to be able to still be able to mentally stray strong in those circumstances."
In all, the 38-year-old American's experience shone through, playing far more consistently with 12 winners to just 16 unforced errors. As Dolehide continued to force the issue from the back of the court, she racked up 25 unforced errors to 11 winners, and lost serve four times in the two-set clash.
Up next for the No.13 seed will be the winner of an all-Romanian encounter between qualifier Monica Niculescu and 2013 Rogers Cup runner-up Sorana Cirstea.
"We'll see what happens. I'll figure it out. I'll obviously hopefully figure it out when I get out there, but we'll see."