London: Five-time champion Venus Williams battled into the Wimbledon third round with a 4-6, 6-0, 6-1 win over Romanian qualifier Alexandra Dulgheru, while Roger Federer and Serena Williams prepared to take centre stage on Wednesday.
Venus reached her ninth Wimbledon final last year, but the American star was denied a sixth title by Garbine Muguruza.
She returned to the All England Club stuck in a rut after losing in the first round of both the Australian and French Opens this year.
Making her 21st Wimbledon appearance, 38-year-old Venus is the oldest woman in this year’s tournament and the world number nine looked her age during a sloppy opening set of her first round against Johanna Larsson.
But she hit back to clinch her 88th Wimbledon singles win and it was the same script as she made it 89 by recovering from a poor first set to demolish Dulgheru.
Asked if her wealth of Wimbledon experience was a key factor, Venus said: “I’d love to have that extra advantage. If that’s working for me I’m all for it.
“It’s just about winning the match. If that’s your best or not doesn’t matter.”
Venus faces Dutch 20th seed Kiki Bertens or Russian world number 107 Anna Blinkova in the third round.
Milos Raonic slammed 34 aces as the 2016 Wimbledon finalist won 7-6 (7/4, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/4) against Australia’s John Millman.
The Canadian 13th seed will play Austrian qualifier Dennis Novak, who beat French 17th seed Lucas Pouille 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (8/10), 3-6, 6-2.
Sam Querrey, the 11th seed, stepped up his bid to emulate last year’s run to the semifinals with a 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 6-3 win against Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky.
Querrey’s fellow American Madison Keys, seeded 10th, celebrated US Independence Day with a 6-4, 6-3 win against Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum.
Croatian world number 55 Donna Vekic followed up her shock success against fourth seed Sloane Stephens with a 7-5, 6-4 victory against Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson.
Romanian 29th seed Mihaela Buzarnescu thrashed British teenager Katie Swan, 6-0, 6-3 to extend her remarkable renaissance.
The 30-year-old took several years off due to shoulder and knee injuries, a break that allowed her to earn a Phd in sports science.
A year ago, Buzarnescu was ranked 213 and lost in Wimbledon qualifying — yet now she will face Czech seventh seed Karolina Pliskova for a place in the last 16.
Former world number one Pliskova has finally made it to the third round on her seventh visit to Wimbledon after seeing off two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 6-3 on Centre Court. — AFP