October 5, 2015

On Althea Gibson’s Birthday, Venus Williams Reflects on Her Legacy After First Round Win

Venus Williams 2

(August 25, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – On what would have been Althea Gibson’s 87th birthday, 34-year-old Venus Williams overcame 43-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 to win her first round match in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday.

Williams was asked about how Gibson, who was the first black tennis player to win a major, has inspired her.

“What she accomplished is something no one else did, to be not only the best player in the world during that time where she had no support and in a time when it was hard to feel good about yourself because who you were was something that was considered inferior, Williams commented. “So that was very difficult. I can’t imagine how she felt. She did it with class and she did it with grace. I’m very fortunate not to have had to play under those circumstances. I have had an opportunity to play well and be myself, and because of her, I’m really proud of who I am. Really, what she has done, you know, goes beyond words.”
In turn, the 19th seed Williams was asked about the role she and her sister Serena have played in terms of diversity during her career.

“Serena and I played in a different time,” Venus said. “I think we played in a different time where you’re able to have opportunities. And people love to be on the side of a winner, so, you know, the things that everyone did, women’s rights, civil rights, all of those things are a different time, thank God. I’m not saying it’s a perfect time, but it is a different time. So, yes, I think that Serena and I influenced lots of young people, lots of African-Americans, hopefully all kinds of people all around the world, to live a better life through sports or even if they never played.”

In addition to facing a tough opponent on Monday, Williams has to fight off a bee. The two-time US Open champion led 3-0 in the deciding set when a bee buzzed around the court around both players.

“So once it was my turn, then I think I would have been remiss to swat it myself. Kind of came up with a strategy to hopefully, you know, follow her example in that. Just let the fly land on the racquet and in the towel. I guess he’s on his way now.”

The insect was captured and taken off court by ball persons and an additional helper.

Williams’ next opponent will be Timea Bacsinszky in the second round.

Related articles:

Althea Gibson Documentary Project Selected for Film Festivals

Althea Gibson Inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame


Date-Krumm sees top 10 potential in Belinda Bencic

Kimiko Date-Krumm ©Tennis Panorama

Kimiko Date-Krumm ©Tennis Panorama

By Alana Mitchelson

(January 13, 2014) MELBOURNE, Australia – In her Grand Slam debut at the WTA level, 16-year-old Junior Grand Slam Champion Belinda Bencic has defeated 44-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm, 6-4 4-6 6-3, to progress into round two of the Australian Open 2014.


Having reached the second round of Tokyo and Osaka, the teenager has proven once before how she can up the ante at WTA standard but she is yet to determine how well she will fare in a Grand Slam, making her debut at Australian Open 2014.


Twenty-eight years her senior, Date-Krumm began on serve, immediately pushing her younger opponent out to the far wings of the court and planting a beautiful drop shot to start off the match in fine form.


The young Swiss double faulted on her first serve and looked quite nervous as, early on in the match, her hesitant net approaches opened it up for Date-Krumm to launch deep, forehand winners soaring past her. The Japanese eventually snatched the early break.


Bencic played more and more to the Japanese’s backhand, her own two-handed backhand proving as quite the weapon, and this strategy empowered her to seal out a break of her own. She backed up this form with her first solid service game to level the score 4-4.


The Swiss propelled top spin heavy serves in a stellar service game, featuring a pounding ace, to close out the first set over her largely flat-hitting opponent.


The teenager returned with the same level of energy and hunger displayed in the first while Date-Krumm worked to regain her confidence. And after a successful call challenge, the pace quickly turned in the Japanese’s favour.


The 16-year-old generated some incredible angles, maneuvering the ball about her fit opponent whose court coverage was nothing short of remarkable given her age. Date-Krumm’s unrelenting determination saw her snatch hold of the fifth game, one that proved particularly draining for the pair of them.


Date-Krumm was on the defensive and ensured her efforts in the hot weather did not go to waste, challenging the Swiss to a third deciding set.


Bencic made the most of Date-Krumm’s tiring muscles and as her older opponent’s energy levels dropped, she lengthened the rallies to reclaim control of play to seize her first ever match in the women’s draw of a Grand Slam.


The Swiss Newcomer Of The Year reflected on what was going through her mind during her first Grand Slam match at WTA level.


“I was a little bit nervous in the beginning… it was special.


“I didn’t play really at my best, but I was able to fight through, and it was the only thing I could do in that moment.”


Date-Krumm was very impressed by the young rising star’s game mentality and maturity on the court, so much so as to insist Bencic could be a top 10 contender in the future.


“Of course I know she’s very young but when I go on the court, I think of her as another player. But she’s not like a 16-year-old. And I’m talking about (in terms of) her tennis. She’s improved a lot. But fighting (against) her, she’s not a high school girl. She, of course, needs to learn a lot but she has so much potential,” Date-Krumm said.


“If she has more power and if she’s playing more smart, she could get to the Top 20 or even the Top 10.”


In contemplation of meeting world No. 4 Li Na in the second round later this week, the ambitious teenager sounded excited.


“It will be a nice experience for me. Hopefully on a big court.”


Alana Mitchelson is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN and read her personal website http://alanamitchelson.wordpress.com


Serena Williams Dominates in Opening Match at Wimbledon

SerenaWilliamsFaceoff11 - Copy

(June 25, 2013) Serena Williams began the defense of her Wimbledon crown in dominating style by conquering Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella 6-1, 6-3 in a first round match on Tuesday on Centre Court.

Williams did not lose a point on her serve in the first set which captured in 19 minutes. The 92nd ranked Minella took a 2-0 lead to open the second set when Williams double faulted on a break point.

Williams stormed back by winning the next four games and broke serve to seal the match. Williams has extended her career-best winning streak to 32

She’s now 68-8 at Wimbledon.

The world No. 1 assessed her play:

“I feel like I was a little rusty for some reason today.  I don’t feel like I played my best.  I felt really upset when I lost my serve in the second set.

“With that being said, I think Mandy played really well.  I thought she was really mixing up her shots, mixing up her game.  It wasn’t an easy match for me.  I’m a little excited I was able to play a tough match and to get through it.”

Kimiko Date-Krumm ©Tennis Panorama

Kimiko Date-Krumm ©Tennis Panorama

The 42-year-old veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm demolished 18-year-old German qualifier Carina Witthoeft 6-0, 6-2.

Date-Krumm retired at 25 but made a comeback at 37 in 2008

“When I come back, I’m enjoying very much, even I’m losing,” said the Japanese tennis player.  “Of course, after losing, always very disappointed.  But still I’m enjoying very much.

“I have a lot of passion.  I like challenge because not easy for my age.”

Date-Krumm is the second oldest player to win a match at Wimbledon. Martina Navratilova was 47 when she won a first round match in 2004.

Sixth seed Li Na had an easy time with Michaella Krajicek winning 6-1, 6-1.

In a battle of young up and comers, USA’s Madison Keys defeated Great Britain’s Heather Watson 6-3, 7-5.

For Keys it was her first win at the All England Club.

“I was definitely pretty nervous at the beginning,” Keys said.  “Once I started playing the match a little bit, getting into it, felt a lot better.

“After winning my first one, feel really good about it.”