Reinvigorated Venus falls just short in champions battle

Fri Jun 27, 2014 3:58pm EDT
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - American veteran Venus Williams played like the great champion she has been at Wimbledon on Friday but fell just short, losing a high-quality Center Court slug fest against Petra Kvitova.

A match-up between two of the best exponents of grasscourt tennis always looked like being a classic and it lived up to expectation as 2011 champion Kvitova edged it 5-7 7-6(2) 7-5.

With her last Wimbledon title in 2008 fading into the past, the 34-year-old Williams may be in the twilight of her glittering career but after injury and illness robbed her of some of her powers in recent years, she appears reinvigorated.

Friday's match would have graced a final, let alone a third round match, such was the level achieved by both players.

"The battle is always a little more enjoyable when you win," Williams, playing her 63rd grand slam," told reporters.

"When you lose, there's so much more to learn from the situation. I think, just for me to be able to play that well having really not played hardly any matches is good. I think I'll just keep improving.

"People have been trying to retire me since I was like 25. For some reason in tennis we always do that to our players. It's weird," she added.

Williams was bidding to reach the last-16 for the first time since 2011 and executed some majestic tennis during a first set in which both players exchanged plenty of heavy metal.   Continued...

Venus Williams of the U.S. reacts during her women's singles tennis match against Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic on Centre Court at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London June 27, 2014. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth