Williams Writes Off Raymond To Reach Wimbledon Quarterfinals
Photo By Art Seitz By Richard Pagliaro
The grass wilted beneath Venus Williams' fast feet while her expansive reach was nearly exhausted today. Lunging left, reaching right, spinning to stave off a series of challenges thrust in her face, the two-time defending champion repeatedly responded with a ready reply.
Moments after Williams wrote off 16th-seeded Lisa Raymond, 6-1, 6-2, to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the fifth consecutive year, her toughest test of the day came in the post-match autograph session.
As the top seed rapidly signed her autograph for legions of fans eager to own her name etched on paper it was clear the top seed has already made her mark on the tournament.
In what was perhaps her most dominant performance of the fortnight, the 22-year-old Williams turned back one of the game's top volleyers with the comfortable confidence of a player writing her result on a draw sheet. Scripting her success on the strength of a sensational serve, Williams won 85 percent of her first-serve points (22 of 26 points), delivered five aces, did not double fault and faced only one break point in the match, which she saved with a 116 mph service winner, followed by a 115 mph ace down the middle to reach match point. She closed out the 48-minute victory when Raymond netted a return off a strong second serve.
Apparently inspired by dropping the first set of her third-round match to unheralded Canadian Maureen Drake on Saturday, Williams came out firing today. She slammed four aces in winning the first set in 18 minutes. The four-time Grand Slam champion has won five of her eight sets in this event by the same score of 6-1.
Though Raymond's attacking style has helped her reach at least the fourth round in three of her last four Wimbledon appearances, the 5-foot-5 former two-time NCAA champion simply lacked the weapons to combat Williams' awesome arsenal of shots.
The 6-foot-1 Williams will take on Elena Likhovtseva in the quarterfinals. The Russian defeated 19th-seeded Magdalena Maleeva 6-3, 6-4 in her fourth-round match today.