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Venus strides into quarter-finals despite early scare

Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 4/7/16 USA's Venus Williams in action against Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro REUTERS/Tony O'Brien
Britain Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England - 4/7/16 USA's Venus Williams in action against Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro REUTERS/Tony O'Brien

By Clare Lovell

LONDON (Reuters) - The grande dame of women's tennis, Venus Williams, strode to victory against a scampering Carla Suarez Navarro on Monday, beating the Spaniard 7-6(3) 6-4 to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

Williams, with five Wimbledon crowns to her name, used her 20 years of experience on the tour to overcome early sluggishness, a rain break and a busy opponent.

Williams, the oldest woman in the draw at 36, looked out-of-of-sorts when she arrived on Court One and lost the first three games of the contest.

She pulled back to a tiebreak but had to run off court for half an hour because of a rain shower -- a feature of this year's tournament.

"I thought: Oh no not again," eighth seed Williams said. "It was hard... I was dismayed.

"I just tried to stay focused and she gave me a few points and that saw me through."

Williams's nine inch (23 cm) height advantage was also a bonus for the American and she used her big serve, stride and reach to counter Suarez Navarro's speed and whipping top-spin groundstrokes.

The 12th-seeded Spaniard had to go for her shots and they did not come off too often. She put a forehand long to hand Williams the first set.

Williams broke serve twice in the second set and, though she returned the favour herself in the sixth game, Suarez Navarro failed to withstand Williams's serving and big shot barrage in the final game, succumbing to an unreturnable backhand.

SJOGREN'S SYNDROME

It is eight years since Williams, who has suffered from the debilitating Sjogren's syndrome, last won Wimbledon and seven since she reached the final to be beaten by her sister Serena but the American declared she was still supremely motivated.

"To play at this level, you have to be passionate," she said. "You have to want it. Every point is tough. You have to find that inner whatever it is to figure out how to get to this level."

She would not be drawn on the differences between her game in 2009 and her game now.

"I don't really remember, it's been so long ago. You got to think I was playing amazing (in 2009)," she said.

Now, Williams added, she tried not to focus on whether she felt good or not.

"It's wonderful when everything is working. But that's not a reality," she said. "It's about, Can I make this play right now? If I don't feel great, can I still make this play? That's the mentality I go into my matches with now.

"In 2009, I probably didn't think that way."

(Reporting by Clare Lovell; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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