Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Williams outlasts bee, Date-Krumm

Published:Tuesday | August 26, 2014 | 8:00 AM
Venus Williams of the United States returns a shot against Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan, during the opening round of the 2014 US Open tennis tournament yesterday at Flushing Meadows in New York. - AP

NEW YORK (AP):

Venus Williams started with a soft forehand, shifted to a gentle backhand and even tried to blow away a most pesky opponent. She kept moving from sideline to sideline, yet still couldn't shake free at the US Open.

Not until three attendants came onto the court to help did Williams escape what was bugging her yesterday - a bee that wanted to land on her racket.

"The bee was a challenge," the two-time Queen Bee of Flushing Meadows said after beating Kimiko Date-Krumm 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round.

The pre-match buzz was all about the ages of the players. Williams is 34, Date-Krumm is 43, and their combined 77 years was believed to be the oldest for opponents in a women's Grand Slam pairing, the WTA (Women's Tennis Assocation) said.

"According to Kimiko, I've got another decade," Williams said.

"Definitely, I was younger today," she said. "But when you step onto the court, no one is thinking about age. It's just a number."

Earlier in the match, a bee interrupted Date-Krumm's serve. She refused to kill it, and instead parried the insect.

Then with the 19th-seeded Williams ahead 3-0 in the final set, a bee flew close to her as she prepared to serve.

After her Japanese opponent "showed such class" in handling the flying nuisance, "I would've been remiss to swat it", Williams said.

"I came up with a strategy to follow her example," she said.

Williams spent more than a minute trying to get away, waving her hand and blowing at the bee. While some fans shouted, "Smash it!", Williams refused to take a full, serious swing.

Eventually, two ball persons and a helper came out with towels and corralled the bee and carried it off as the crowd cheered.

"He's on his way," Williams said.

Along with the 19th-seeded Williams, 21st-seeded American Sloane Stephens also advanced by routing Annika Beck.

Second-ranked Simona Halep rallied from a set down for a 6-7 (2), 6-1, 6-2 victory over 20-year-old Danielle Rose Collins, who was playing her first main draw match at a tour-level event. As a sophomore at Virginia, an unseeded Collins won the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) title to earn a wild card into the US Open.

On the men's side, spinning in 70 mph second serves, grabbing at his hamstring during points, Andy Murray gritted his way through head-to-toe cramps to win. He outlasted Robin Haase 6-3, 7-6 (6), 1-6, 7-5 in the first during an afternoon that was hot, but not particularly humid. He was mystified that the cramps came on so early - at the start of the third set after only about an hour and a half on court.

"When it starts to kind of go everywhere, you don't know exactly where it's going to creep up next," he said. "When you stretch one muscle, something else then cramps, too."

Ninth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also needed four sets to beat Juan Monaco 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-1. Nick Kyrgios - the Australian teen who stunned Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon - came back from three code violations, just one outburst away from default, in a 7-5, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (1) upset of 21st-seeded Mikhail Youzhny.

Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic were to play under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium in the first night session of the year's last Grand Slam tournament.