Venus Williams eased into the second round of Wimbledon and warned her experience makes her more dangerous than ever.
Williams, who turned 31 on Friday, made a fashion statement in an unusual outfit but hardly broke sweat as she swept aside Akgul Amanmuradova 6-3 6-1 in their first-round showdown on Court Two.
The five-time Wimbledon champion is playing only her second tournament since withdrawing from the Australian Open with a hip injury and she improved as her opening match match progressed.
Far from fearing the decline of her powers, she believes the years of competition have left her better equipped.
“I'm smarter than I was five years ago. The beauty of being able to have a long career is being able to use the experience that you learn on the court,” Williams said.
“More and more players are starting to realise that it's an advantage to be able to play longer, because then you actually understand the game.”
Though one of the more senior competitors on the tour, Williams is not comfortable being described as ‘old school’.
“Old school has a lot of good connotations, but I'm not sure in the style of my game I'd be old school,” she said. “I still think I come out with a lot of new moves.”
There is no doubting the veteran status of Williams’ next opponent Kimiko Date-Krumm, who crushed Britain's Katie O'Brien. Date-Krumm is 40 years old, returning to the game in 2009 after retiring for 12 years.