London - Venus Williams blazed a trail for Wimbledon's elders on the opening
day of the championships on Monday with a 6-0 6-0 hammering of fellow American
In her 18th main draw appearance at the All England Club where she has triumphed
five times in a glittering career, the 35-year-old rolled back the years with a
devastating display against a star-struck rival 10 years her junior.
The American is one of 54 singles players aged 30 or over in the main draws
here - proof that despite the emergence of the likes of teenagers such as
Belinda Bencic and Borna Coric, experience and class can still hold sway.
"I don't necessarily have an opinion about everyone else," 16th
seed Williams, who could face 33-year-old Grand Slam chasing sister Serena in
the fourth round, told reporters.
"I think that tennis players have the ability to play a longer time
than they have in the past and people are capitalising on it.
"It's a great job. It's fun out here. You can only do it for a little
while in comparison to how long you won't be doing it. So that's my whole
While former world number one Venus suffers from the condition Sjogren's
Syndrome which can sap her of energy, Germany's Tommy Haas, the oldest man in
the draw at 37, has been patched up after a career blighted by injury.
The former world number two has only recently made yet another comeback
after a year out following shoulder surgery, but produced an eye-catching
performance to beat Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 6-2 6-3 4-6 6-2.
In doing so he became the oldest man to win a match at Wimbledon since Jimmy
Connors in 1991, when the American was 38.
"I'd be lying if I said that I do not care. I think that's really
cool," Haas, who demonstrated the noble art of serve and volley throughout
his match, told reporters.
"I am very happy to once again be here in Wimbledon."
He will face Canadian young gun Milos Raonic next.
Plenty more of the 30 somethings lived to fight another day, although
34-year-old Lleyton Hewitt, the 2002 champion, perished. His final match at
Wimbledon will join a long list of epics the Australian has contested though,
even if an 11-9 deciding set loss to 33-year-old Jarkko Nieminen will hurt.
Fellow Aussie Samantha Stosur, 31, and Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova, 32,
also made it to round two.