Venus makes beeline past Kimiko in battle of veterans

Dave James

New York (AFP) - Two-time champion Venus Williams, the second oldest woman in the US Open, defeated Kimiko Date Krumm, the tournament's leading senior citizen, to make the second round Monday, overcoming bee attacks in the process.

Williams, the 34-year-old champion of 2000 and 2001, won 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 against her Japanese opponent who will be 44 in September.

Seventy-two women in the main draw this year weren't even born when Date Krumm made her New York debut back in 1989.

"I was younger today, but when you step out on the court, I don't think anybody thinks about age," said Williams.

"Because if you're out on this tour it means you deserve to be here. You've got the skill. It must mean you know how to play. So at that point she has the number, as they say."

Williams had nothing but praise for Date Krumm, playing in her 50th Grand Slam and having reached the quarter-finals of all four majors.

"According to Kimiko I have another decade," said the American in admiration of her veteran, slender opponent who is also the oldest woman in the world top 100.

"She set the prime example. She's top 100 and no one can beat her easily. Yeah, she's breaking the mold."

Date Krumm made a mockery of her age as she glided through the opening set against a player she had lost to in all of their three previous meetings.

Gradually, though, the crushing 30-degree heat and the trapped humidity inside the cavernous Arthur Ashe Stadium took its toll.

Date Krumm was also not helped by a bee attack midway through the first set which halted her mid-stride and was only dealt with by the swift intervention of the ballboys as the Japanese star attempted to shrug it off before being reduced to fits of laughter.

In contrast, Williams effortlessly brushed away at the bee when the insect returned in the decider, where she was racing to a 5-0 lead.

Date Krumm gallantly chipped away at the deficit but wilted under the American's barrage with the tie wrapped up in just a shade over two hours when Date Krumm netted a weary backhand.

- Great timing -

"Well, the bee was a challenge but Kimiko was the greater challenge of course. She has such great timing and you can never settle into a rhythm," said Williams after a match which featured 13 breaks of serve.

The tussle with the persistent insect brought some light relief for players and crowd with the bee finally meeting its maker, squashed without ceremony between two towels provided by the ballboys as Williams looked on.

"Kimiko has so much class she didn't swat it. So once it was my turn, then I think I would have been remiss to swat it myself. Kind of came up with a strategy to hopefully, you know, follow her example in that. Just let the fly land on the racquet and in the towel. I guess he's on his way now."

Williams, the 19th seed, goes on to next face either Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands or Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky.

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