Grass holds no fears for Williams

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The Independent Online
Venus Williams will celebrate her 17th birthday today by facing he fellow American Chanda Rubin in the Direct Line Insurance Championships at Eastbourne. Williams came through the qualifying tournament with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Miho Saeki, of Japan, yesterday.

The confident Florida-based player, whose Wimbledon debut is next week, said: "I find playing on the grass no real problem. It seems to suit my game. My target this week, as always, will be to win the tournament. I always have a little acceptance speech prepared just in case."

Britain's 12th-ranked player, Jo Ward, who is No 351 in the world, beat Gloria Pizzichini, the No 86, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, yesterday to qualify for Eastbourne, but must miss Wimbledon because she cannot now play in this week's qualifying event.