Melbourne - Venus Williams rolled back the years to move
smoothly into the Australian Open third round on Wednesday despite an elbow
injury that forced her out of the doubles competition.
The 13th seed, an eight-time quarter-finalist or better in
Melbourne, won 6-3, 6-2 against Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele, who has never
been beyond round two.
Williams, the oldest player in the women's draw at 36, will
next play China's Duan Yingying, who beat American Varvara Lepchenko.
"I love being here and playing here," said the
American veteran. "I played an opponent who didn't make it easy. It was a
"Today was a good day, a little less hot first thing in
the morning, so it was good to get it in, you know, and have a win early."
Williams retired from the warm-up Auckland Classic this
month with a sore arm, and she said she was pulling out of the Melbourne
doubles with sister Serena as a precaution.
"I'm managing it. I was hoping to have the capacity to
play both events here, but at this point I just need to be careful and just try
to maintain myself," she said.
The draw has opened up for Williams with fourth seed Simona
Halep, whom she was scheduled to meet in the fourth round, already out.
In her 17th Australian Open, the most among active players
together with Serena, Williams quickly raced to a 3-0 lead against Voegele,
using her powerful groundstrokes to good effect.
But the Swiss 26-year-old was up for a fight on Rod Laver
Arena and she broke back with a crisp backhand down the line, then held serve
to haul herself back into contention.
Jolted, Williams knuckled down and broke again in the ninth
game to comfortably take the set.
It went with serve until the composed seven-time Grand Slam
champion seized her opportunity in the fourth game, capitalising on errors to
break and go 3-1 in front.
The American, who played her first Australian Open in 1998,
was in cruise control and wrapped up the match with a pinpoint backhand in 83
She admitted she knew nothing about her next opponent,
"I have never seen her play. Zero, like zero," she
said. "So I'm going to have to see how it goes."