*Venus Williams needed three sets to wear down Greek qualifier Maria Sakkari 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the third round at Wimbledon on Thursday, which also saw fellow Americans Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys advance to the next round.
The five-time Wimbledon champ Williams had 38 winners but 31 unforced errors. She dropped her serve in the seventh game of the first set after getting a time violation warning for switching rackets. Then, Sakkari broke Venus three times in the second set.
But Williams bounced back to take the third set and the match, her 78th win at Wimbledon – two matches behind sister Serena’s total.
At 36, the eighth-seeded Williams is the oldest player seeded in the top eight at a major tournament since Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1994. Her 115th ranked opponent was barely 4-years-old when Venus won the first of her seven grand slam titles at Wimbledon in 2000. She won the last of her five Wimbledon titles in 2008. Since 2011, she has not been past the fourth round.
Venus’ third round opponent is Russia’s Daria Kasatkina.
Madison Keys, meanwhile, earned a 6-4 4-6 6-3 second round victory against Belgian Kirsten Flipkens on Thursday. She’ll face Alize Cornet of France in the next round.
Also Thursday, 23-year-old 18th seed Sloane Stephens returned to win her rain-delayed first-round match against China’s Shuai Peng 7-6 (7-5) 6-2. Stephens will next face Luxembourg’s world number 126 Mandy Minella on Friday.