By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) – Five-times champion Venus Williams stayed on course to notch up 100 Wimbledon singles matches as she recovered from a bad start to beat China’s Qiang Wang in the second round on Wednesday.
Her 97th contest at the All England Club was not going at all to plan but she recovered to win 4-6 6-4 6-1 on a sultry Court One. A run to the quarter-finals would complete the century for the 37-year-old.
“I had no idea. Wow. I never look at the stats. So, I’d love to reach 100. That would be awesome,” Venus, flying the Williams family flag in the absence of her sister and reigning Wimbledon champion Serena who is on maternity leave, told reporters.
“I love doing this. You have to. It’s a lot of work, a lot of pressure. It’s not easy. Just love.”
She has played more matches at Wimbledon than any other active player and, after Petra Kvitova’s second-round defeat she is the only former champion left in the women’s draw.
She needed all her experience to pull out a victory that for long periods looked beyond her as the errors piled up against the 55th-ranked Quiang who played with great poise in what was only her fourth singles match at Wimbledon.
When Williams served at 3-3, 15-40 in the second set a shock loomed but she scrambled out of trouble and broke in the 10th game with a backhand pass to level the match.
She ran away with the decider to book a third-round match against Japan’s Naomi Osaka.
Williams came to Wimbledon under a cloud after being involved in a road traffic accident last month in Florida which resulted in the death of a 78-year-old man.
She broke down in tears after being asked about the subsequent police investigation on Monday, but this time was spared any more questions on the subject.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)