By Martyn Herman
LONDON, June 27 (Reuters) - Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm, the grand old lady of the women's singles draw, became the oldest female player to reach the Wimbledon third round in the professional era on Thursday.
The 42-year-old, one of 13 players aged over 30 in the main draw but the oldest by a distance, was too wily for 23-year-old Romanian Alexandra Cadantu in a 6-4 7-5 victory.
It is the first time Date-Krumm, ranked 84, has reached the Wimbledon third round since 1996 when she made the semi-finals.
That was two years before her next opponent, five-times Wimbledon champion Serena Williams, first appeared at the All England Club. Strangely they have never played each other.
"I have so much respect for her. I think she's so inspiring to be playing such high-level tennis at her age," Williams, 31, told reporters. "And she's a real danger on the grass court.
"I definitely will have to be ready. It's for sure not going to be easy, but I'll be ready."
Date-Krumm, who retired in 1996 but returned 12 years later because she missed it so much, is the oldest woman to make the third round since Britain's Virginia Wade in 1985, aged 39.
The oldest man to reach the third round at Wimbledon since the game went professional in 1968 is Australia's Frank Sedgman who was 43 at the time in 1971. (Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)