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 on Wednesday, 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.”
Venus and Serena Williams withdrew from a scheduled first-round doubles match later Wednesday, citing an injury to Venus’ right elbow. The sisters have won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles together, including four at the Australian Open.
Venus 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. Her forehand landed too long, but her intention was clear. Get through the round ASAP. She won the subsequent two points to hold.
At 15-15 and 5-2 in the second, 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. Williams lost to eventual semifinalist Johanna Konta in the opening round last year.
In the next round she’ll play Duan Yingying, who beat Varvara Lepchenko 6-1, 3-6, 10-8.
Venus is playing her 17th Australian Open, but has never won the title. Her best run was to the final in 2003, when she lost to Serena.
No. 11 Elina Svitolina had a 6-4, 6-1 win over U.S. qualifier Julia Boserup to advance to a third-round match against No. 24 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a 6-2, 6-2 winner over fellow Russian Natalia Vikhlyantseva .
In another match, Alison Riske beat No. 20 Zhang Shuai 7-6 (7), 4-6, 6-1.
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.