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Venus Williams Rallies Into Wimbledon Third Round • So Does Little Sis And New Mom SERENA

Tugging on her vanilla visor, Venus Williams bounced up and down behind the baseline.

 

Even when standing still, Williams was a woman going places.

 

The ninth-seeded Williams reeled off 12 of the final 13 games surging past qualifier Alexandra Dulgheru, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1, into the Wimbledon third round.

 

Growing stronger as the match progressed, Williams advanced to the third round for the 18th time in 21 appearances at The Championships.

 

“I’m happy. I won,” Williams told the media afterward. “As long as I walk away at the end with a win, that’s the goal.”

 

Playing catch-up has fueled the five-time champion’s forward march.

 

For the second straight match, Williams started slowly and dropped the first set. And for the second straight match, she lifted her level, ripping returns, serving with more ambition, belting her backhand with menacing intent and attacking net with more frequency to ignite a comeback.

 

“It just takes mental skill for both, to be honest,” Williams said of her comebacks. “Ideally it’s two sets. If it’s not two sets, then go to Plan B.”

 

Williams won 13 of 23 net trips today and converted five of 10 break points raising her Wimbledon record to 89-15.

 

The 38-year-old veteran has traveled nearly every possible path to the Wimbledon second week in the past.

 

This week, the 2017 finalist has overcome sluggish starts with strong closing power. She rallied from a set down to storm past Johanna Larsson, 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-1 and took charge after a slow start today.

 

Beating the former world No. 1 to the ball, Dulgheru broke to open then had a pair of break points for a 3-0 lead. Williams withstood that pressure to hold for the first time.

 

The Bucharest-born baseliner kept the ball low posing problems for the 6’1″ Williams, who sometimes struggled to clear the net with her flat forehand. When Williams tried to attack, Dulgheru often delivered the answer with precise passing shots.

Swinging more freely on serve, Williams charged through back-to-back love holds for 4-5.

Playing with depth and control from the baseline, the sturdy Romanian closed the opening set in 43 minutes when Williams sent a backhand beyond the baseline.

Maintaining the opening break throughout the set, Dulgheru served 75 percent in the set.

The 141st-ranked qualifier stalled her own momentum with a six-minute bathroom break. When the Romanian returned to court, Williams was waiting with an aggressive all-court response.

Down triple break point in her opening service game of the second set, Dulgheru dashed forward for a fine backhand volley winner saving the second break point.

On her third break point, Williams surprised Dulgheru shoveling a short backhand return down the line that scooted beneath the Romanian’s racquet for the break and a 2-0 lead.

Serving for a 5-0 lead, Williams soared for a smash, but her left foot stuck in the grass as she backpedaled causing her to grimace and grab at her leg.

Shaking it off, Williams worked through a tricky game blocking a backhand volley for 5-0.

A break in the barrage came in the ensuing changeover as Dulgheru took a medical time-out to have her left knee taped.

 

The tape job was a brief reprieve.

Drilling returns down the line with authority and frequently following her shots forward, Williams put the Romanian under pressure. Dulgheru double-faulted bringing an ignominious end to a shutout set as Williams forced a decider after 87 minutes.

A running forehand pass gave Dulgheru a second break point in the third game of the final set. Bending low to the ball, Williams smacked a backhand down the line to deny it, eventually holding for 2-1.

 

Amping up the pace of her drives, Williams repeatedly stretched the Romanian wide on the backhand side. The 38-year-old American drew an errant backhand breaking at 15 for 3-1.

A sometimes unruly forehand plagued Williams in the first set, but by the final set she was hammering away with that wing. Williams won a forehand-to-forehand exchange breaking again for 5-1.

Blasting a 112 mph serve into the body, Williams wrapped a dynamic one hour, 59-minute victory, improving to 18-1 in second-round Wimbledon matches.

Continuing her quest for her 50th career title, Williams will want to get off the mark quicker when she plays either 20th-seeded Kiki Bertens for a spot in the round of 16.

Bertens blasted by 19-year-old Russian Anna Blinkova, 6-4, 6-0, on the strength of six service breaks.

On the 10th anniversary of her last Wimbledon title, Williams knows she must lift her level against the hard-hitting Bertens.

In a sweaty, topsy-turvy thriller, Williams roared back from a 1-4 third-set deficit and fought off three match points beating a cramping Bertens, 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, into the Miami Open round of 16 in March.

“I’m going to try to play well,” Williams said. “I don’t know what exactly to expect other than to continue to try to improve my game. I’ve done that in both my matches, just continued to play better and better throughout the match.

“I feel confident that I can do that. What happens on her side of the net will be out of my control. I mean, it’s the third round now. I’m sure she has some momentum and probably will be playing well.”

Twirling in a celebratory wave to Court No. 1 fans, Williams will aim to continue her customary run toward the second week. Venus has reached the Wimbledon fourth round or better in nine of the last 12 years.

Editors Note: Tennis needs maternity leaves. It just does. There were something like a  half a dozen moms in draw and over a dozen married men that are dads or soon to be dads.

SERENA won today. Looking fierce and beat Bulgarian Tomova 6-1,6-4.

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