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Venus Williams wins at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON, England - Even on one good leg, Venus Williamsis tough to beat at Wimbledon.

The five-time champion wore a strap on her left knee Thursdaybut still advanced to the third round by beating KaterynaBondarenko 6-3, 6-2.

The tournament favorite, Williams has been hampered by kneetrouble in the past, but there was no indication of a problem thisweek until she walked onto sunny Court 1 bandaged from mid-calf tomid-thigh.

Williams let out a yelp when she appeared to pull up on abackhand in the third game, perhaps because of the knee. Otherwiseshe moved across the grass freely, charging forward to pounce onshort balls. She won 17 points at the net to two for Bondarenko.

Williams was coy about the reason for the tape.

"Just for support," she said twice in response to questions.

Pressed about what was wrong with her knee, she said: "Whathappened was that I needed some support, and then I went and gotthe support, and then I wore it in the match. I'll be wearing it indoubles, too. So it's working out. I mean, I think all the playersmight start wearing it because it's so supportive."

Her mother and coach, Oracene Price, declined to discuss thematter. Williams wore the strap again later when she and sisterSerena beat Virginie Razzano and Aravane Rezai in doubles, 6-3,6-3.

The last woman to make the round of 32 was 17-year-old AmericanMelanie Oudin, who beat darkness and Yaroslava Shvedova, 3-6, 6-2,6-4. Oudin, a qualifier from Marietta, Ga., is ranked 124th andplaying Wimbledon for the first time.

Another qualifier, 133rd-ranked Jesse Levine of Boca Raton,Fla., reached the third round at a major event for the first timeby beating lucky loser Pablo Cuevas 6-2, 6-1, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3. Thatgave the United States three men in the round of 32, with AndyRoddick and Mardy Fish also remaining.

Roddick, a two-time Wimbledon runner-up to Roger Federer, lostserve only once and defeated Igor Kunitsyn 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.

"It was comfortable most of the time," Roddick said. "Iplayed my best set by far in the fourth set."

He'll next face good friend Jurgen Melzer, the Wimbledon boyschampion in 1999. Roddick has won their eight previous meetings.

Lleyton Hewitt, who won Wimbledon in 2002, upset No. 5-seededJuan Martin del Potro 6-3, 7-5, 7-5. Hewitt broke an 11-matchlosing streak against top-five players.

"I love playing in England," the Australian said. "It feelslike a second home, really."

No. 3-seeded Andy Murray, trying to become the first British mansince 1936 to win Wimbledon, defeated Ernests Gulbis 6-2, 7-5, 6-3.Fabrice Santoro, who plans to retire at the end of the year, waseliminated from his 14th Wimbledon when he lost to former No. 1Juan Carlos Ferrero, 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.

Joining Venus Williams in the women's third round was FrenchOpen champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who beat Pauline Parmentier 6-1,6-3 in 59 minutes. The Roland Garros runner-up, top-ranked DinaraSafina, never faced a break point and beat Rossana de Los Rios 6-3,7-5.

Last year's French Open winner, No. 13-seeded Ana Ivanovic, beatSara Errani 7-5, 6-1. No. 17 Amelie Mauresmo, the 2006 Wimbledonchampion, beat Kristina Kucova 6-3, 6-3. No. 18 Samantha Stosur, aRoland Garros semifinalist this month, swept the last five games tobeat qualifier Tatjana Malek 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4.

Safina and Kuznetsova criticized the court assignments.Kuznetsova was on Court 3, while Safina and former No. 1-rankedplayers Ivanovic, Mauresmo and Jelena Jankovic were also on smallercourts.

"Of course it's not fair," Safina said. "Hopefully next matchI'll play on bigger court."

"I'm fine to put me wherever they want to me put," Kuznetsovasaid in slightly broken English. "They don't have to put me CentreCourt. But with the schedule, this is little bit weird thing. ...But, you know, in Wimbledon you have to expect anything."

Jankovic, seeded sixth, beat Iveta Benesova 6-2, 6-4.

The No. 3-seeded Williams lost only six points on her serve, twoon double-faults. She slammed three aces in her first service gameand finished with six.

She was just as ferocious with her returns. When one serve cameat Williams slower than a lorry on the motorway, she eagerlystepped into the court, took a lusty swing and hit a winner.

That took her to set point in the first set, and she whackedanother big return on the next point to win the set. There was noletup from there, and she swept the final four games.

"Everything was working for me today," she said.

The win was her 16th in a row at Wimbledon.

"Oh my gosh, that's a great statistic for me," she said. "Iknow a lot of people have done better than that, but that's a greatachievement. I want to make it more."


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