Venus end British women's challenge

Venus end British women's challenge

For the second round in succession, defending champion Venus Williams struggled to get to grips with a British player at Wimbledon.

But for the second round in succession, the four-time winner eased through the next set to book her place in the third round.

After being taken to a first-set tie-break by Naomi Cavaday on Tuesday, Williams had to save nine break points in the first set before beating British number one Anne Keothavong 7-5 6-2 on Centre Court today.

“Anne played really well, she hit a lot of deep shots and some smart serves,” Williams told BBC1.

“If she can play this well, she definitely has a future in the game.

“I think I lost a bit of focus after I made some errors but I got it back, thankfully.”

Williams raced to a 2-0 lead for the loss of just one point before Keothavong, 92nd in the world, began to produce some superb tennis.

The 24-year-old broke back immediately, saved four break points to level at 2-2, and then forced eight on Williams’ serve in an amazing fifth game.

The American clung on desperately with the aid of some powerful serving and after saving another break point, eventually it was Keothavong who cracked.

After almost missing the ball entirely with her first serve at 30-30 in the 12th game, two unforced errors from the Londoner gifted Williams the break and the set, 7-5.

The first set had lasted 69 minutes but, as in the opening round, there was a noticeable change in atmosphere as the crowd sensed Keothavong’s chance had gone.

In seven previous appearances at Wimbledon, Keothavong had won just one match and the best victory of her career to date was over world number 41 Nicole Pratt.

A second-set lull against the world number seven was perhaps therefore inevitable, and so it proved.

A double-fault gave Williams a break point and when a superb return forced Keothavong into an error, she smashed a ball into the turf in frustration at going 3-1 behind.

And that frustration was only increased when another double-fault gave Williams two match points and a forehand error handed her opponent victory after one hour 44 minutes.

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