Venus wins generation game against Chirico
Venus Williams is 15 years older than compatriot and second-round opponent Louisa Chirico, who was treated to a masterclass on Suzanne-Lenglen Court.
When Venus Williams was asked about her all-US second round contest with one of her bright young compatriots, Louisa Chirico, the seven-time Grand Slam champ noted sweetly: “It's not as much fun when you have to meet an American early on - but the best part is an American will go through!”
The bit that went unsaid, of course, was that Venus had a pretty good idea which of those Americans was going to prevail.
For while she may be 35 now and is still having to endure a daily struggle against the debilitating Sjögren's syndrome, one of the more remarkable athletes of our times evidently retains all the old self-belief and is not about to step aside easily for the new generation.
Chirico could give her 15 years but it was Williams who gave her 20-year-old opponent the runaround, racing to a 6-2 6-1 victory which suggested that this might be the first year for a while here that the 2002 finalist has a meaningful run into the second week.
For the contest on Suzanne-Lenglen Court had been billed as a genuine examination for the No.9 seed, with Chirico having reached the semi-finals in Madrid recently and having won as many matches in the last month as Williams has the whole year.
Instead, it was brutally one-sided, with Williams possessing too much power, too much accuracy and too much know-how to give Chirico even the faintest whiff of a chance in the 54-minute drubbing.
"I'm just grateful I think with every year that passes & every moment that I play."— Roland Garros (@rolandgarros) May 26, 2016
Venus shares the of the game pic.twitter.com/22Wh6rN2NW
As she told the fans in her post-match interview: “Louisa has a lot of talent but I think I had the experience. Today, I was lucky that I've played 20 years here at Roland-Garros.”
Well, 19 years in the main draw actually - more than any of her competitors - but you suspect that after a season in which she’s been making a habit of getting knocked out by players outside the top 50 that she may have discovered her old major tournament form at just the right time.
Earlier on Lenglen, little sister Serena had serenely swanned through and Venus quickly appeared in the mood to follow suit, with a rasping forehand winner setting up a break point before a nervous-looking Chirico then struck a tame forehand into the net.
Constantly pressurising the youngster with the depth of her low, flat returns, Chirico, a former junior semi-finalist here, gave up the set in 29 minutes with a double fault and her early resistance in the second set ended fairly swiftly too with a series of clumsy errors when serving at 2-1 down.
A booming forehand put Chirico quickly out of her misery at 5-1 down as Williams won by exactly the same scoreline as Serena earlier against Brazilian Teliana Pereira and now she can contemplate the prospect of her best run at Roland-Garros for six years.
Earlier, Serena had made a pretty convincing effort at addressing the crowd and when it came to her turn, Venus, implored just to offer a couple of words, smiled: “J’adore Paris.” From the genuine affection of their reaction, it seems Paris still has a soft spot for her too.