WIMBLEDON, England - Serena Williams walked onto Court 2for her match Friday six minutes late. Otherwise she remained righton schedule at Wimbledon.
The two-time champion became the first player to earn a spot inthe second week of the tournament when she beat Roberta Vinci inthe third round, 6-3, 6-4.
As Vinci waited for her tardy opponent to arrive for their noonstart, there was brief speculation Williams might be a no-show.Once that ended, so did the prospect of an upset.
With a mix of power and placement, Williams hit 10 aces andcommitted only 12 unforced errors to win for the 172nd time in 200Grand Slam matches. The only other woman to play so many matches inmajor tournaments is her sister, five-time Wimbledon champion VenusWilliams (219).
Over on Centre Court, the new retractable roof remained open fora fifth consecutive day, despite a cloudy sky and rain in theforecast.
The No. 2-seeded Williams used her penetrating strokes to pushVinci around the court. One time the Italian scrambled to retrievea shot in the corner several steps beyond the lines, then stoodhelpless as Williams hit a winner into the other corner.
Only briefly did Williams waver, with a series of misplaysmidway through the second set. She squealed in anguish when a pooraim cost her a point at the net. She squealed again when shedouble-faulted on break point. When she pulled a backhand wide tolose another game, she stomped the grass and said, "Ai-yi-yi."
Serving at 4-3, she fell behind love-30, then hit three aces tohold. Two games later, one final ace gave her the match, and shescreamed, "Yes!"
Williams' opponent in the round of 16 Monday will be DanielaHantuchova, who beat Ai Sugiyama 6-4, 6-3. That ended Sugiyama's17th Wimbledon.
Robin Soderling, this month's French Open runner-up to RogerFederer, reached the fourth round by beating Nicolas Almagro 7-6(7), 6-4, 6-4. Soderling lost only three points on his first serveand never faced a break point.
When it comes to hopes for U.S. men at Grand Slam events, AndyRoddick is used to going solo. So he was glad to be joined in thethird round by two alumni from his high school.
The biggest surprise was Jesse Levine, the lone remainingqualifier in the men's draw. He upset former No. 1 Marat Safin inthe opening round, then beat lucky loser Pablo Cuevas 6-2, 6-1,4-6, 4-6, 6-3 Thursday. It's Levine's best showing in a Grand Slamtournament.
Three U.S. males in the round of 32 doesn't necessarily signal abright future for American fortunes that have been in decline foryears. At 27, Fish is a year older than Roddick, while Levine, 21,is ranked only 133rd.
"I'd love nothing more than for some young 17-, 18-year-old topop out and get in there in the top 15 or the top 10," Roddicksaid. "But, you know, you can't really deal in hypotheticals. ...We can't really make fantasy worlds up. You just kind of deal withit and move on."
Still, by recent standards it has been a decent week for U.S.tennis -- and a very good one for Boca Prep.
"There's something special over there," Levine said.
It helps that the school is adjacent to the Evert TennisAcademy.
Levine attended as a freshman and sophomore. He played one yearfor the Florida Gators before turning pro in 2007. He arrived inLondon last week with an 0-2 record in 2009, and he's now into thethird round at a major event for the first time.
The United States has a qualifier in the women's third round,too -- 17-year-old Melanie Oudin of Marietta, Ga. She became thefinal player to reach the round of 32 when she beat YaroslavaShvedova in the twilight Thursday, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Oudin is ranked 124th and playing Wimbledon for the first time.
"I'm still, like, trying to comprehend everything," she said.