New test facing Williams

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Venus Williams, the 16-year-old American prodigy, will make her first appearance in Britain and will play her first ever match on grass at Eastbourne today.

Earlier this week, Williams refused to accept a wild card into the Direct Line Insurance championships at Devonshire Park because she wanted grass court practice and elected to play in the qualifying rounds instead.

She will make her debut on the surface against the German Wiltrud Probst in the first qualifying round and will have to win that match and two more, tomorrow and on Monday to gain a place in the main draw. She expects to do just that.

Kristine Kunce, an Australian qualifier, continued her giant-killing act at the DFS Classic at Edgbaston with a three-set defeat of the third seed, Lisa Raymond, in the quarter-finals. Kunce, ranked 191 in the world, hit three aces in the final game to beat the American, ranked 21st, 6- 4 6-7 6-3.

"I thought I was going to be nervous in the last game but I can't complain," Kunce said.

Her semi-final opponent is Nathalie Tauziat, the No 2 seed from France, who beat the eighth seed, Natasha Zvereva, of Belarus, 6-1 2-6 6-2. Tauziat will be out for revenge. Three years ago at the same event she was two games away from beating Kunce, then Kristine Radford, but lost. "When you are 6-1 4-1 up on grass you should win and I didn't," Tauziat said. "But my next tournament after losing was Eastbourne where I won the title so it must have helped me."

The Frenchwoman was pleased to get through a difficult match with Zvereva, composing herself during a rain break after the Belarussian had started to cash in on 's failing serve in the second set.