Serena Williams wins, avoids Wimbledon upset wave
LONDON (AP) — Serena Williams sailed past Wimbledon's wave of upsets and now faces an opponent more than a decade older than her.
The five-time champion beat Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-2 on Thursday, avoiding the sort of early exit that has sent many top players tumbling from the tournament. Next up for the 31-year-old Williams is Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm, who at 42 became the oldest woman to reach the third round at Wimbledon in the Open era.
Date-Krumm beat Alexandra Cadantu of Romania 6-4, 7-5 to advance this far at Wimbledon for the first time since 1996, when she went to the semifinals.
"I have so much respect for her," said Williams, who herself became the third-oldest woman in the Open era to win a Grand Slam tournament when she captured this year's French Open. "I think she's so inspiring to be playing such high level tennis at her age. And she's a real danger on the grass court, I know that. I definitely will have to be ready."
Date-Krumm is the second-oldest woman to have won a match at Wimbledon after Martina Navratilova, who was 47 when she reached the second round in 2004. She took a 12-year break from tennis before returning in 2008.
"I don't know how she's able to do so well," said Williams, adding she doesn't expect to be around for another 10 years. "I didn't see myself playing at 31. I definitely do not see myself playing at 42."
Age certainly doesn't seem to be slowing her down.
A day after Roger Federer led the list of big names to go out in the second round, the top-ranked Williams never looked in danger against the 100th-ranked French qualifier.
Williams broke twice in each set to extend her career-best winning streak to 33 matches as she aims for a sixth Wimbledon title. Her two main rivals, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka, were eliminated on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old Garcia is seen as a potential future star, with a game especially suited for grass. But she couldn't force a single break point against the American's strong serve on Court 1. She also lost to Williams in the second round of the French Open last month.
"It's always difficult to play Serena, but I played much better than in the French Open because maybe I know her a little bit and I know what is going to happen," Garcia said.
Williams is among those expecting to see a lot more from Garcia in big tournaments.
"She's incredibly promising, she does everything well," Williams said. "Her serve is amazing, so I knew it would be a good match on the grass."
After that wild Wednesday, with seven players retiring or withdrawing with injuries, a sense of normalcy returned to the All England Club. was not an upset to be seen, only the familiar sight of rain covers being pulled over the courts.
After three days of dry weather, showers forced the first delay at this year's tournament, with the retractable roof closed over Centre Court. Last year's runner-up, Agnieszka Radwanska, returned about 30 minutes later to wrap up a 6-1, 6-3 win over Mathilde Johansson of France under the roof.
In the men's draw, seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych and No. 8 Juan-Martin Del Potro advanced in straight sets. Berdych, the 2010 runner-up, beat Daniel Brands of Germany 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-2. Del Potro rallied from a break down in the second set to oust Jesse Levine of Canada 6-3, 7-6 (7), 6-3.
Later in the day, top-ranked Novak Djokovic was to play Bobby Reynolds of the United States.
No. 6 Li Na of China looked in trouble for a while before overcoming a poor second set to beat Simona Halep of Romania 6-2, 1-6, 6-0. Halep's lower back was treated after the first set, but she still dominated the second. Li, the former French Open champ, found her stride again in the third.
"Welcome to the crazy women's tennis tour," Li said.
Other seeded players to win included No. 11 Roberta Vinci and No. 14 Samantha Stosur. Bernard Tomic of Australia advanced by defeating American James Blake 6-3, 6-4, 7-5. Tomic's father and coach, John Tomic, is barred from tournaments after allegedly assaulting his son's hitting partner.
There were two more injury retirements: Michael Llodra quit with a hamstring problem after losing the first set 7-5 against 23rd-seeded Andreas Seppi of Italy, and Paul-Henri Mathieu retired while trailing 6-3, 5-1 against Feliciano Lopez of Spain.
That was the ninth retirement or walkover of the second round in singles play, breaking the record for a round at Wimbledon in the Open era. The International Tennis Federation said eight players quit in the first round in 2008.
It equaled the record for a Grand Slam tournament, as nine players withdrew or retired from the first round at the 2011 U.S. Open.