Perhaps it was because they had never played each other before despite both being veterans. Perhaps it was because it was on Centre Court. Perhaps it was because it was just meant to be. But today’s second round match between Kimiko Date-Krumm and Venus Williams in the second round of Wimbledon proved to be one of the best matches of the year.
An entertaining and drama-filled encounter that saw the 40-year old Date-Krumm overwhelm her younger opponent (how many times can you say that about a Venus Williams match) in the first set before Williams charged back to force a opening set tiebreak that Date-Krumm finally won after her eight set point. After the tense first set, the crowd and Date-Krumm probably needed a breather and it was Williams who claimed the second set After both exchanged breaks early on in the third set, it felt like Venus would storm through the third set, especially when she had multiple chances to break Date-Krumm for a 3-0 lead. But the veteran Japanese player held serve for 2-1 and then it proved to be a serving contest with both players holding serve to go past the 6-all game mark, making some wonder if this match would end surpassing the “Franlana” encounter down in Melbourne earlier this year. But serving at 6-7, Date-Krumm hit a few errors too many, including a passing shot at match point down that just missed the line, giving Venus the win 6-7, 6-3, 8-6.
Williams proved once again that despite being away from the tour for five months, she still is a strong contender to win her sixth Wimbledon title. And for Kimiko, well, not only is she still one of those players no one wants to see early on in an event, but the complete display of shotmaking and sheer tenacity she put on for the world to see makes me hope that she continues to play on for a few more years. With the entire 15,000+ Centre Court crowd standing on their feet to salute both women, it was a fitting tribute to two women who proved that age really is a number but also, like their match that wasn’t decided until the very end, that life and what you do with is never really over, no matter what other people might say. It was inspiring watching both women compete at the highest level today and I say to both of them —