Serena Williams gets ready for battle of the ages with Date-Krumm
Williams sees off Garcia (19) and now faces 42-year-old Japanese player
Serena Williams during her second-round victory over Caroline Garcia of France at Wimbledon. Photograph: Wang Lili/Xinhua/Photoshot
Yesterday Serena Williams played against a talented 19-year-old French girl Caroline Garcia, winning in straight sets 6-3, 6-2. Tomorrow she meets Kimiko Date-Krumm, who is 42 years old. The Japanese woman will come to the end of her time-defying run at Wimbledon.
Date-Krumm won her second match of the draw, against Romanian Alexandra Cadantu, 6-4, 7-5, which must have been a withering experience for the 23-year-old from Bucharest.
In a game that has a tradition of cruelly exposing age, Williams has recently stoked the grate and found the embers still burning red.
At 31 years old, Roger Federer’s obituaries are being written but Williams, the same age, is looking so good now she would probably have beaten the 21-year-old version of herself.
“I wouldn’t want to play me at 21 or 31,” she said. Point taken.
For Date-Krumm the match-up will be curious and to some will have a PT Barnum circus sort of appeal, the bad optics of a 31-year-old beating up on a 42-year-old in one of the cathedral courts; a celebration of the longevity of two great athletes or a commentary on the failure of the women’s tour to rise up to the levels Williams has brought to the game.
Yesterday, Williams demolished a player who two years ago at the French Open ran Maria Sharapova to 6-3, 4-1 before the Russian came back to win.
Back then, a watching Andy Murray tweeted “the girl Sharapova is playing is going to be the number one in the world one day. . . what a player.”
Date-Krumm may not provide the same fearless and aggressive offensive game as a player on an upwards curve like Garcia. But she does have a formula that has worked for longer than anyone else in the game.
There is caution in Williams’ voice. Federer’s result, she says, was “weird”. There is a lot of weird around this year.
“Well, I’ve never played her. I have so much respect for her,” said Williams of her Japanese opponent.
“I think she’s so inspiring to be playing such high level tennis at her age. And she’s a real danger on the grass court, I know that. I definitely will have to be ready.
“Kimiko has great hand-eye coordination. She returns unbelievable shots. Doesn’t matter how hard you hit it, she sees the ball and gets it back. She has great hands, has a wonderful, great volley, comes to the net a lot, which on grass can be tricky. She plays really flat, so the ball stays really low.”
In 2011, William’s sister Venus almost became Date-Krumm’s most celebrated victim in a match that ran for just short of three hours before the American’s older sibling came through 6-7, 6-3, 8-6.
“I did see the match,” says Serena. “I think I lost four years of my life watching that match. So I will definitely be talking to Venus and figuring out what I can do to do the best that I can.”
The opponent seen as Williams’ main threat on her side of the draw, Agnieszka Radawanska from Poland, came through yesterday in the first rain delayed match of the championships.
Her 6-1, 6-3 win over against Mathilde Johansson moves her nicely along for a possible quarterfinal meeting.
Madison Keys, the American teenage hope, won 6-4, 6-2 against Mona Barthel, the 30th seed, with Samantha Stosur, the 14th seed, getting past Olga Puchkova.