Venus sends out warning with power-packed romp to victory

Venus Williams powered into Wimbledon's fourth round yesterday, quickly recovering from an early break of serve and never especially troubled in beating the 20-year-old Russian Alisa Kleybanova 6-4 6-2.

However, it's rare that the older Williams sister is matched for formidable physique on the court. The Muscovite's father, Mikhail Kleybanov, used to work for the Institute of Steel and Alloys, and has produced a hard nut of a daughter. Broad of shoulder and thunderous of thigh, she hits her groundstrokes almost as hard as Venus, and will surely take a few notable scalps over the next few years, adding to that of Daniela Hantuchova, whom she beat here in 2008 before losing to Williams in the fourth round.

Kleybanova, ranked 27th in the world and also seeded 27 here, considers grass to be her best and favourite surface, although it was on clay, in last year's Madrid Open, that (in their only other previous meeting) she beat Williams in three sets. She rarely looked like repeating this feat on a sweltering Court One yesterday, although she did have the effrontery, at 1-4 in the second set, to take a 0-40 lead against the big Williams serve. It was a game she eventually won, although not before Venus, the No 2 seed, had thumped her way back to deuce, revving herself up with some shrieks that in the still south-west London air must have carried half-way to Wimbledon Village.

When she plays like this, routinely hitting 120mph serves and rarely straying more than a yard from the baseline, Venus is still one of the most impressive sights – and sounds – in the women's game. At 30 the five-times singles champion, making her 14th Wimbledon appearance, counts as superannuated in women's tennis, but it would be a brave or possibly reckless punter who backed her to fall short of yet another final against her sister, the top-seeded Serena. Her only significant problem yesterday was with her service toss, which she was forced to catch four or five times, rather evoking Wimbledon's other famous VW, Virginia Wade, who was the worst tosser of the lot.

It isn't often that a show-court crowd gets frustrated with Venus, who has acquired treasured status at the All England Club, but by the last misdirected toss there was one of those low murmurs of disapproval at which Wimbledon audiences specialise. They specialise too in resourceful ways of keeping cool in what at times was truly fierce sunshine, draping shirts and flags over heads and deploying newspapers, magazines and programmes as makeshift fans, although there were also plenty of people flapping proper fans, almost certainly purchased from an entrepreneurial woman who has set up a stall on the long, sweaty walk from Southfields tube station. Derek "Del Boy" Trotter, Peckham market trader – whose old mucker Trigger, otherwise known as actor Roger Lloyd Pack, was in the Court One crowd – would be proud of her.

As for Venus, she declared after the match that she was feeling proud of herself. Asked whether she sometimes has to slap herself at the realisation that she and Serena are still here as the top two seeds, she said: "No, not really, because I work really hard year in and year out. If I was just relaxing, then I probably would be pretty surprised if I was here. But ... I'm just blessed to be, you know, healthy enough and strong enough, and still talented enough to play."

Of that there is no doubt whatever, and it's hard to imagine her struggling too much against her next opponent Jarmila Groth, although of course she was far too savvy to admit it. "I played her before when she had a different last name," she said of Groth, a 23-year-old originally from Bratislava who married Australian player Samuel Groth last year, and now has Australian citizenship. "It's been a while. But I know that she definitely likes to go out there and hit the ball hard. She's talented."

Groth, who was born Jarmila Gajdosova, is the daughter of a former Slovakian football international making her fourth consecutive appearance in the fourth round of a Grand Slam. Otherwise she is noteworthy for hitting two-handed on both backhand and forehand side. But however she hits the ball, it will almost certainly have to be very hard and very accurate if Venus is not to sail on into the last eight.

Elsewhere, the No 3 seed Jelena Jankovic – conqueror of Britain's Laura Robson on the first day – made even more straightforward progress, beating the Ukrainian Alona Bondarenko 6-0, 6-3. Strangely, it was the third time in three consecutive Grand Slams that they have met in the third round.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment