Wimbledon 2014: Venus Williams sets up battle of champions with Petra Kvitova


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The Independent Online

There will be a meeting of former champions tomorrow after Venus Williams came through a rollercoaster second-round match to earn a tie against the sixth seed and 2011 winner Petra Kvitova.

Williams, suffering for the past three years from the debilitating Sjogren's syndrome, is ranked No 31 these days but can still turn on the power in bursts. Two of them, one in each set, blew away Japan's Kurumi Nara 7-6, 6-1 in one of those almost comical Little v Large contests.

The strapping 6ft 1in American, eight times a finalist here and five times a winner, was a full foot taller than her opponent, who nevertheless took a 3-0 lead. Williams then reeled off five games in a row and in the eventual tie-break – "when it comes down to who's going to be more aggressive and consistent," she said – won six successive points for the first set.

In the second, it was six straight games after losing the first, to complete a popular triumph. "My whole goal is just to keep playing and stay as healthy as I can," she said.

As the oldest player left in the women's singles, the 34-year-old is prepared to look further ahead, indicating a possible switch to just playing doubles with her younger sister Serena: "That could still be an opportunity to get major titles, enjoy the game, still go to the Olympics."

Coaching, however, has been ruled out: "I love to help people and to see young people do well, but I don't want to be out here waiting on a rain delay again."

It will be her 89th Wimbledon singles match against Kvitova, who defeated Mona Barthel of Germany 6-2, 6-0. In the same half of the draw, eighth seed Victoria Azarenka went out to Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.

Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska briefly lost her concentration on Centre Court after going 5-1 up in the first set against the Australian Casey Dellacqua but regained it to ease through 6-4, 6-0.