Venus Williams advances to third round in Melbourne

The Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia — It was inevitable after such an energetic performance in her second-round win over Stefanie Voegele at the Australian Open that Venus Williams would get asked about transcending the generations in tennis.

The 36-year-old, seven-time major winner played the first of her record 73 Grand Slam tournaments at the French Open in 1997. Back then, she got to play against the likes of Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova.

In a 6-3, 6-2 win over the 26-year-old Voegele today, Williams mixed up her game, clearly not content on relying purely on the kind of power game that helped her make a mark on the sport.

“I have to talk about this every interview,” Williams said in reply to what has become a regular post-match question to the oldest player in the women’s draw here. “I’ve played some of the greats.

“It’s an honor and privilege to start that young,” she added, laughing, “and play this old.”

Williams put plenty into her second-round singles match, which lasted 1 hour, 23 minutes.

In the second set, serving and with a game point, she chased the ball like a teenager from one side of the court to the other, and back, trying to finish off. At 15-15 and 5-2, she was still remonstrating with herself after missing a point. She finished off the match later in the same game, another break, to reach the third round, where she’ll face Duan Yingying.

Venus and Serena Williams withdrew from a scheduled first-round doubles match later today, citing an injury to Venus’ right elbow.

Meanwhile, top-ranked women’s player Angelique Kerber overcame a shaky second set to defeat Carina Witthoeft 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-2.

On the men’s side, fifth-ranked Kei Nishikori reached the third round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win over Jeremy Chardy, and 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer advanced with a 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (3) victory over 20-year-old American qualifier Noah Rubin.

In late play Tuesday, men’s No. 2 seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic held off Fernando Verdasco in a 71-minute, momentum-swinging second set before winning 6-1, 7-6 (4), 6-2. Rafael Nadal, who lost to Verdasco in the first round a year ago, defeated Florian Mayer 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.