WIMBLEDON, England — Time and again after losing a point, Venus Williams rolled her eyes, slumped her shoulders and let out a shriek of dismay that echoed through Centre Court, reverberating off its roof.
Facing the oldest woman in the Wimbledon field — 40-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm — Williams was mired in a three-set struggle that lasted nearly three hours Wednesday, a tight, high-quality contest brimming with the sort of at-the-net, classic grass-court play seen so rarely nowadays.
"She doesn't play anywhere near her age," Williams said.
In the end, Williams, a five-time champion at the All England Club, mustered every bit of her competitive drive and considerable talent to pull out a 6-7 (8-6), 6-3, 8-6 comeback victory over Date-Krumm and reach the third round.
"Venus came out slow, and that girl took off like a brand new motor," said Williams' father and coach, Richard. His daughter missed time with a bum hip and is playing only her fourth tournament since Wimbledon in 2010.
On Tuesday, his other daughter, Serena, needed three sets to win, too. After ambling out of Centre Court this time, Dad tapped his umbrella's wooden handle on his chest and said, referring to those matches: "They're tough on the heart. The heart's not as young as it once was."
Williams hammered 12 aces with a stroke that was gauged at at 120 mph, even in her final service game. Contrast that with Date-Krumm's serves, mostly about 80 mph. One was 65 mph.
Date-Krumm, who reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 1996, quit tennis later that year, then came out of retirement in 2008.
On the men's side, two-time champion Rafael Nadal and three-time runner-up Andy Roddick breezed to victories.
The top-ranked Nadal beat Ryan Sweeting of the United States 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, compiling 38 winners and only seven unforced errors. In the third round, Nadal will face Gilles Muller - the only man other than Roger Federer to beat him at Wimbledon in the past six years. Since losing to Muller in the second round in 2005, Nadal is 28-2 at the All England Club.
Roddick's strong serve was clicking again in a 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Victor Hanescu. The No. 8-seeded American hit 15 aces, saved the only break point he faced and limited his unforced errors to six ... all with a special pair of fans sitting at Centre Court: his parents.
"This is the first time they've seen me play here. ... I think today was the first time they ever sat in a box in my entire career," said Roddick. "They picked a good court to debut that on."
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