LONDON: Venus Williams breezed into the third round at Wimbledon yesterday while fellow former champion Petra Kvitova tumbled out.
Venus and Johanna Konta had to grind their way into the last 32, while new mum Victoria Azarenka continued her comeback bid for Grand Slam glory.
Two-time champion Kvitova, the bookmakers’ title favourite, lost 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 to Madison Brengle of the US.
Kvitova, playing in her second Grand Slam since recovering from a terrifying knife attack in her home, needed medical assistance during the third set.
“I just could not breathe, and I was feeling a bit sick,” the Czech 11th seed said.
“I felt like an animal. But a very slow animal.”
Troubled US five-time champion Venus survived a scare against Chinese rising star Wang Qiang, eventually winning 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.
Venus is trying to concentrate on tennis against the backdrop of impending legal action back home over a fatal car crash.
“The past is something that you can’t change, if it was good or bad. I like to live in the future. I don’t want to think about the past, per se. It’s done,” she said.
Venus next faces Japan’s Naomi Osaka, who ousted Czech 22nd seed Barbora Strycova.
Former world number one Azarenka, playing her first Grand Slam tournament since giving birth to first child Leo in December, knocked out Russian 15th seed Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-3.
She hopes to become become the first mother to win the Wimbledon singles since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980.
“It’s really fun that I’m able to go home and spend time with my son,” the Belarusian said.
Azarenka next faces British wildcard Heather Watson, who downed Latvian 18th seed Anastasija Sevastova.
British sixth seed Konta reached the Wimbledon third round for the first time with a marathon 7-6 (8/6), 4-6, 10-8 win over Donna Vekic which left her opponent in tears.
With Konta, Watson, Andy Murray and Aljaz Bedene’s wins, four British players have reached the Wimbledon third round for the first time since 1997.
But Murray said: “I’d rather set the goal at reaching second weeks and quarter-finals and contending for Slams.”
In other women’s matches, second seed Simona Halep went through in straight sets, while fellow seeds Elina Svitolina (4th) and Dominika Cibulkova (8th) also made it.
French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko joined them in the third round with a late evening three-set 4-6 7-6(4) 6-3 win over Canadian qualifier Francoise Abanda.
For the second match running the 13th seed’s level fluctuated wildly but she finally made her extra firepower count to see off the Canadian as darkness descended on Court 12.
Fans could have been excused for wondering what all the fuss was about as Ostapenko, who blazed to the Roland Garros title last month, flailed forehands high and wide in a scrappy first set against her fellow 20-year-old.
The Latvian was three points from defeat in the second set tiebreak but world number 142 Abanda wavered with a nervy double-fault and Ostapenko seized her chance to level the match.
Yet more unforced errors handed Abanda a 2-0 lead in the deciding set but a fired-up Ostapenko won six of the last seven games to move through to a clash with unseeded Italian Camila Giorgi who knocked out big-hitting American Madison Keys.