Wimbledon 2011: Venus & Date-Krumm Prove That Age Is Nothing but a Number

Antony HerbertAnalyst IIIJune 22, 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 22:  Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan reacts to a play during her second round match against Venus Williams of the United States on Day Three of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 22, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

With a combined age of 71, neither five-time Wimbledon Champion Venus Williams or 40-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm would have been expected to challenge for the women's title when Wimbledon began this week.

Yet after a first set featuring a ridiculously high quality of tennis it was hard not to be astounded by the flexibility and range of shots that both players—especially Date-Krumm—seemed to possess.

Williams looked like a deer caught in headlights as the wise mind of her opponent allowed her dated serve-and-volley game to look like a stroke of genius. She raced into a 3-0 and 5-1 lead and was seemingly sending Williams packing. 

Yet Williams would not subside and clawed her way back into the set, making for some riveting shot sequences. 

The acrobatics from both made the fixture even more compelling with various lengthy rallies ended by sensational lunges and incredibly accurate shots born out of nowhere. 

Even as a five-time former winner Venus looked out of form in the opening few games, but anyone who had forgot about her serve was quickly reminded as she saved multiple set points with thumping first-serve aces and winners. 

She eventually took the first set to a tiebreak, causing the British commentator to proclaim "stop it you two" at witnessing the breathtaking nature with which the pair were playing. 

It didn't stop there. Date-Krumm raced into a 6-2 lead on the tiebreak to give her four more set points adding to three lost from previous games. Williams responded with an ace and three well constructed points before Date-Krumm claimed a glorious further set point with a desperate return shot which just landed on the line. 

The Japanese player finally triumphed on her eighth set point to take a mighty first set and force the crowd into a frenzy at the remarkable scenes they had just witnessed. 

Whilst the field of women in this years draw is one of the strongest arrays of talent in recent years, it is certain that you will be hard-pressed to find a better opening set for this tournament. 

And in the outcome that we do it, it will be unlikely that the two players featured will come close to the combined age of today's fixture. 

The second set looked to continue the same intensity, and it was Date-Krumm who seemed to gain the momentum from taking the first set. 

The collection of impressive shots continued and a beautiful winner in the second game of the set from Venus after a long and acrobatic rally produced an overwhelmed smile from her Japanese opponent.

Maybe this was a realization that although Williams had come out unaware of the armour that Date-Krumm possessed, she had acclimatized to the situation and was able to now match her opponent stroke for stroke.

At times Venus looked down and out on a point but somehow transformed the point and claimed it as her own. It was Venus who emerged triumphant by taking the second set and edging out Date-Krumm in the final set, 8-6.  

Yet both players showed a testament to the ambition and determination that they possess to not let the match turn into a one-sided affair.

Occasionally in the latter stages Date-Krumm brought out some truly awe-inspiring winners. Whilst her days may be numbered she will no doubt now be a name many will now remember from her glory days. 

And for all those players who decided to retire early due to a common folklore that your best years are in your 20s—who says you have to retire before you're 30? 

The action today was fruitful, it exceeded expectations and more than anything it showed that age can be immaterial when compared to the natural ability, tenacity and will to succeed that a player can portray.