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Venus Williams, Date-Krumm to meet for 1st time

- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 21, 2011

WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND (AP) - Venus Williams is playing in her 15th Wimbledon. Kimiko Date-Krumm is back at the All England Club where she made her first appearance way back in 1989. They have a combined age of 71.

Two of the longest-serving players in women's tennis will meet for the first time, facing each other in a second-round match that will span two decades of experience on the tour.

The 40-year-old Date-Krumm is back in the second round at Wimbledon 15 years after she reached the semifinals and three years after coming out of a long retirement. The Japanese veteran was the first player to reach the second round Monday after a 6-0, 7-5 win over British wild card Katie O'Brien.

Next up is Williams, the five-time champion who turned 31 last week and is back in action after nearly five months off with a hip injury.

"I thought it was amazing when she came back," Williams said of Date-Krumm. "I watched her results. She's been playing so well. I always root for her actually. But this time I'm playing her, so I will be rooting for me this time."

At 40 years and nine months, Date-Krumm is the third oldest woman to win a singles match at Wimbledon, and the second oldest in the Open era after Martina Navratilova.

Her last Wimbledon win came against Mary Pierce in the 1996 quarterfinals. She then lost to eventual champion Steffi Graf in three sets in the last of her three appearances in the semifinals of a Grand Slam.

"Of course I remember 1996, in the Centre Court I played against Steffi and it was darkness. I played two days with her," Date-Krumm said. "It was a big, big memory for me. Then after 15 years I won the first round, and it's already miracle."

Date-Krumm spent 12 years in retirement, from 1996 to 2008. Since returning, she has lost twice at the All England Club in the first round.

"I know this has always been a really good surface for her, especially with the game that she plays," Williams said. "So I definitely won't take anything for granted because I've seen that she's taken out a lot of top players since she's been back. I'm looking forward to it."

Williams powered into the second round with a 6-3, 6-1 win over 97th-ranked Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan. She grabbed as much attention, though, for her latest outfit _ a white romper with a deep "V" neckline, a triangle cut out in the back, a gold belt and gold zipper.

"She's of course good player, especially on grass," Date-Krumm said. "So for me it's nothing to lose. I hope I can enjoy to play even (if) I win or lose."

Williams and Date-Krumm will get the day off Tuesday, a day with a star-studded lineup on the two main show courts.

The Centre Court schedule features three players with a combined 31 Grand Slam singles titles _ defending champion and four-time Wimbledon winner Serena Williams, six-time men's champion Roger Federer and reigning Australian Open titlist Novak Djokovic.

The Court 1 lineup has three-time Wimbledon runner-up Andy Roddick, top-ranked woman Caroline Wozniacki and Robin Soderling.

The weather forecast for Tuesday was mixed. On Monday, rain began falling in late afternoon, resulting in the suspension of 14 matches in progress and the postponement of 17 others. Thanks to the retractable roof, play continued on Centre Court _ including wins by Francesca Schiavone and Andy Murray.

Murray recovered from a one-set deficit to beat Daniel Gimeno-Traver 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-0. From 3-3 in the third set, the fourth-seeded British player won the final 15 games of the match.

The roof was added to Centre Court before the 2009 tournament and was used once that year because of rain. It was used once in 2010 because of darkness _ artificial lights go on when the roof is closed _ and occasionally to provide shade from the sun, but not because of rain.

"The roof, it changes the conditions," Murray said. "It's not the same conditions. It's different. If anything, it's, like, almost too perfect. There's no wind, obviously no sun, no sort of elements to contend with."

With his parents watching from the Royal Box, defending champion Rafael Nadal went down a break in the first set before beating Michael Russell 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in the opening match on Centre Court.

Nadal, coming off his sixth French Open title and 10th overall Grand Slam championship, could face an intriguing third-round match against big-serving 20-year-old Canadian Milos Raonic. Seeded No. 31, Raonic served 25 aces to beat Marc Gicquel in straight sets. Gicquel was a late replacement for Fabio Fognini, who pulled out with a thigh injury.

Raonic will next face Luxembourg's Gilles Muller, but looks forward to the prospect of meeting Nadal.

"It would mean a lot," he said. "First of all, it's a third round of a Grand Slam, so that's a plus. If it does get to that, I think it's a great opportunity, and I think it's something to look forward to."

First, though, Nadal faces 69th-ranked American Ryan Sweeting, who downed Pablo Andujar of Spain in five sets to reach the second round here for the first time. Nadal has beaten Sweeting twice this year, both time in straight sets, at the Australian Open and Indian Wells.

"He's playing better and better every time," Nadal said. "I have to play my tennis. I have to play aggressive like every day. That hopefully will be enough."

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