Wimbledon, England – Venus Williams accumulated 10 aces on Tuesday by smacking at 114 mph – not quite like the old days, but not too shabby either.
He drives the forehand to the corners. He made his way over the net for a crisp volley. And when it was all over, the 41-year-old American celebrated her first Wimbledon match win since 2018 and shouted “Come on!” Before repeating his familiar smile and wave of twirls on the No. 3 court.
A five-time singles champion at the All England Club, making her 23rd appearance here, Williams began her 90th Grand Slam tournament win at Wimbledon with the 90th win of her career, defeating Romania’s Mihela Buzarnescu 7-5, defeated 4-6. 6-3.
Williams is a former No.1-ranked player who came 111th this week and lost in the first or second round in the last eight majors. That included a first round exit against then 15-year-old Coco Gauff at the All England Club in 2019; Now 17, Gauff defeated Fran Jones in straight sets on Tuesday.
“You can’t win them all. Life is about how you handle challenges. Each point is a challenge on the court. Nobody owes you anything,” said Williams, who was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome a decade ago. Turns out, an autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue and joint pain. “I like to handle my challenges well.”
The schedule for the second day of the tournament, as on the first day, was disrupted by rain. More than 20 matches were postponed until Wednesday and a dozen in progress were suspended shortly after Williams ended a win that lasted more than 2 1/2 hours.
Her sister Serena, a seven-time Wimbledon champion, was later reassigned to play on Tuesday, as her match was on center court, which has a retractable roof. Eight-time winner Roger Federer sealed his match there when his rival Adrian Mannarino stopped play after injuring his right leg when he slipped near the baseline late in the fourth set.
Federer was trailing one to two sets, but was 4-2 in the fourth, when Mannarino fell. He tried to continue but dropped eight points out of nine when he started again and gave it up.
“Obviously,” admitted Federer, “he was the better player.”
Women’s winners included defending French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, making her Wimbledon debut; 2018 Titleist Angelique Kerber, No. 1 seed Ash Barty, No. 8 Karolina Pliskova and No. 15 Maria Sakkari. No. 28 seed Alison Riske was defeated by Tereza Martinkova 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.
In men’s action, 20-year-old American Sebastian Korda – whose father, Petr, won the 1998 Australian Open and whose sisters, No. 1-ranked Nelly and Jessica, are on the LPGA Tour – made a successful Wimbledon debut, removing the number one. Given. .15 Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(5).
No. 4 Alexander Zverev, No. 9 Diego Schwartzman, No. 10 Denis Shapovalov and No. 26 Fabio Fognini also advanced.
Zhang Zhizhen, the first man to represent China in a Wimbledon main draw during the Open Era, defeated Antoine Hang of France 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-7(7), 6-3, 6-2 lost to. .
Buzarnescu is a 33-year-old left-hander who has suffered multiple injuries and dropped from the top 20 to the top 150.
“Both of us, we’re not young anymore. He’s got a few years before me,” Buzarnescu said of Williams. “It’s really a great honor for him to play even at this age. And I’m really happy that. As long as she can compete at this level, she will continue, as she is an example to (all) tennis players.
Williams, who entered mixed doubles with Nick Kyrgios, made her Wimbledon debut in 1997. She won it for the first time in 2000 and most recently in 2008, the year she set the tournament women’s record for fastest serve, 129 mph.
On this day, with strips of black tape around his left knee, Williams saved 13 of 15 break points, including a trio in the final game, with his serve.
On the first, Buzarnescu tried a lob that the 6-foot-1 (1.85-m) Williams reached and became an overhead winner. Buzarnescu reversed his racket and grabbed it. The next break opportunity ended with a backhand passing shot into the net. On third, a powerful forehand from Williams forced an error, and Buzarnescu placed his hands on his hips.
After two points, it ended. One of Williams’ sisters stood up and shot the scene with her cellphone. Her mother, Oresin Price, was sitting at the bus stand, head resting on her left hand.
There was someone who was demonstrative about Williams’ hopes of victory: Tunisia’s 21st seed Ons Jabur, who earlier this month became the first Arab woman to win a WTA title.
Williams and Buzarnescu were starting their last set when Jaburon held a video conference with reporters after winning his first-round match. Whoever goes ahead will meet Jaboor, a 6-2, 6-1 winner against Rebecca Peterson.
“I am praying for him to win right now. Playing the role of Venus is an honor, a privilege, everything,” said Jaboor, smiling and holding fingers on both hands. “She is a legend and such for me. is inspiration. How many times have I seen him? I love the way she fights. To be honest, it would be my dream to play her character.”
Jabeur said Williams recently “was kind enough to practice with me” and congratulated her on the barrier-breaking trophy.
“Such a nice person. … Very happy and helpful,” said Jaboor. “I appreciate him so much.”
Later, Williams returned the compliment, calling Jaboor “one of my favorite people on tour”.
“Honestly, she’s just breaking down barriers,” Williams said. “Whatever the first lady of her country is doing…she is inspiring many people including me.”
AP Tennis writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this report.
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