In a match that showed you’re never too old to deliver world-class tennis, No. 19 seed Venus Williams defeated Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, in a first-round battle between the two oldest players in the women’s singles draw; Date-Krumm is 43, and Williams is 35.
“When you step out on the court, I don't think anybody thinks about age. Because if you're out on this tour, it means you deserve to be here,” said Williams. “You've got the skill. It must mean you know how to play.”
It was Date-Krumm who came ready to play in the early stages of the match. Stepping in and attacking the second serves of Williams, she mixed up flat drives with delicate drop shots and impressed the crowd with her variety. The American struggled to find her footing in the beginning of the match, sending several backhands long and hitting 20 unforced errors in the opening set.
“Not the ideal start, but she's a tricky player,” said Williams. “I think she started coming up with some really good shots off my serve. I think I just wasn't able to convert enough holds [and] she just goes on runs.”
But as Williams began adding more spin and height to her shots, it was Date-Krumm who began to unfold. The No. 19 seed raced out to a 4-0 lead in the opening set and kept the momentum to level the match at one set apiece.
When the two-time US Open champion jumped to a 5-0 lead in the final set, many fans began heading for the exits under the assumption that a Williams win was all but confirmed. But with nothing to lose, Date-Krumm began going for broke on her ground strokes and made timely trips to the net. An uncharacteristically nervy Williams failed to serve out the match twice, and the veteran Japanese player held two game points, down 3-5. Williams managed to erase them both and broke the hot streak of her opponent, converting on her first match point when Date-Krumm sent a backhand into the net.
Although she wasn’t pleased with the 36 unforced errors she hit during the match or her first-serve percentage finishing at under 50 percent, Williams was confident that she would pick her game up for her next match against either Annika Beck of Germany or Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland.
“I have won Slams where I didn't feel like I was playing my best. I have won when I felt like I wasn't prepared. I felt like I lost when I thought I was playing amazing. You can't ever tell what exactly it's going to take,” she said. “There is no magic formula. I don't know what's going to happen, but I've got to figure out how I'm going to play well.”