LONDON, June 25 (Reuters) - Reaching the third round of a grand slam for the first time in 18 months, five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams insisted she has plenty of top-level tennis left in her after defeating Japan’s Kurumi Nara 7-6 6-1.
At 34, Venus is the oldest player left in the women’s singles. She last won the Wimbledon title in 2008 and her recent best performance at the All England Club was a fourth-round exit in 2011, but the world No.31 said her hunger for the game remains undiminished.
“For me, when I leave tennis, I want it to be on my own terms. I want to know that I rose to every challenge,” she told reporters after the match.
Joking away questions about her age, Williams said she wasn’t worried about being surrounded by younger competitors.
“I’ve worn my sunscreen, so I haven’t aged terribly. My knees are very tight, not saggy. And the crow’s feet have been kept at bay,” she said.
Put through her paces by world No.41 Nara in the first set, Venus dominated the second after the Japanese player took a medical time out and returned to play with a bandaged thigh.
The American, who rejected speculation that she was late on court because of a brush with Wimbledon’s strict playing dress code, took the match in an hour and a half, pumping out seven aces and hitting 46 winners.
Asked which she would wish for if she was given the chance at one more title, the seven-time grand slam champion said she didn’t want only one.
“I want singles, I want doubles, gold medals, and while I‘m on tour I‘m going to aim for that the best I can,” said Venus, who is due to play in the doubles with her sister, Serena, later on Wednesday.
Venus missed last year’s Wimbledon with an injury and has struggled to progress beyond the early stages of a grand slam singles event over the past three years, having had an auto-immune disease diagnosed in September 2011.
Her next singles opponent will be sixth seed Petra Kvitova, who won the singles here in 2011.
Editing by David Goodman