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Venus wins battle of ages with Kimiko Date-Krumm

Venus Williams returns to Kimiko Date-Krumm during the

Venus Williams returns to Kimiko Date-Krumm during the opening round of the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

And the winner of the U.S. Open's senior women's championship is . . .

Well, not really, but Monday, Venus Williams, 34, defeated Kimiko Date-Krumm, 43, in a match on Arthur Ashe Stadium court.

They are the two oldest competitors in the tournament. Date-Krumm is old enough that 72 players in the women's draw were born after she played in her first major at the 1989 French Open. And three of the players were born after she retired in 1996, returning in 2008 and winning a tournament, and continuing to be an effective player.

Williams dropped the first set, then went on to score a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 win. She didn't think her age advantage had a thing to do with it. "Definitely, I was the younger today," Williams said. "But when you step out on the court, I don't think anybody thinks about age. Because if you are out on this tour, it means you deserve to be here. It must mean you know how to play. So at that point, she has the number, as they say."

Date-Krumm didn't think age wore her down, just what she perceived as Williams' change in strategy to take some pace off the ball and use some spin. That's a veteran's cagey decision, and it's cagey play that allows Date-Krumm to remain in the world top 100 and get automatically into the Grand Slam events. Unless she drops out, she's likely to keep playing.

Date-Krumm still goes to the gym, still eats healthy, and "still has the passion," she says.

She does allow herself an indulgence. "I drink some red wine," she says with a slightly embarrassed giggle.

In other first-round matches, American Sloane Stephens had an easy time with Annika Beck, 6-0, 6-3. No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska spent 47 minutes to beat Sharon Fichman, 6-1, 6-0. No. 6 seed Angelique Kerber was pushed by qualifier Ksenia Pervak, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.

Sharapova upends Kirilenko.No. 5 ranked Maria Sharapova, playing under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium in the first night session of the tournament, defeated fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko, 6-4, 6-0.

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