Belfast Telegraph

Venus feels heat of Wimbledon rivals

Venus Williams is refusing to take anything for granted as she steps up her bid to reach the final of Wimbledon for a fourth successive year.

The second seed is a five-time champion at SW19 and this year is, as usual, among the favourites for the Rosewater Dish.

But she faced a stern examination of her credentials yesterday in a hard-hitting third-round encounter with Alisa Kleybanova, a player 10 years her junior.

Kleybanova, the 26th seed, forced the first break of the match to claim an early advantage but was powerless as Williams' experience told in a battling 6-4 6-2 win that sets up a last-16 clash with unseeded Slovakian Jarmila Groth. Williams, who won back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008 before losing in the final to sister Serena last year, is among the veterans at Wimbledon having turned 30 on the eve of the tournament, but she is adamant there is no sign of her losing her edge against younger opponents.

“These players I'm playing against, I definitely feel I'm holding them at bay,” she said.

“They come out and play well, play with really nothing to lose.” Williams shrugged off talk of pressure being a destabilising factor at major events, saying: “That's part of sports, pressure. It's just knowing how to deal with it.

“If there was no pressure, there wouldn't be the glory either.”

Belfast Telegraph

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