LONDON - Five-time champion Venus Williams had to fight long and hard in blazing sunshine yesterday before taking her place in the Wimbledon quarterfinals with a 6-4 7-6 win over Australia's Jarmila Groth.
Her father Richard, full of admiration for his daughter's grit and determination, said: "She had to play like a hell-cat to pull that one off."
Venus, drained after a tougher than expected battle against the lowest ranked woman left in the tournament, agreed, telling her father and coach: "That was crazy."
Richard clearly felt a higher power was needed to steer Venus through. Sporting a "Jehovah My God" baseball cap, he kept shouting "turn it up V" as the ding-dong battle got more and more intense in an intriguing second set.
Venus arrived almost 10 minutes late for her match.
Explaining the delay afterwards, she told reporters: "I didn't know the procedure for Court Two so I was waiting on someone to get me. No one came so I eventually just came out."
Once Venus got into gear, one break of serve was enough for the American second seed to take the first set after 35 minutes.
But her Slovak-born opponent, ranked 92 in the world, refused to be overawed by the woman who has won more grass-court titles than any other player on the circuit.
The second set was an engrossing seesaw battle with Groth fighting tooth-and-nail to stay in the fight.
Groth served for the set at 5-4 and 6-5 but on each occasion Venus thwarted her, and she did well to recover from 4-0 down in the tiebreak before going down 7-5 when the Australian netted a forehand after an hour and 37 minutes.
Venus will now play Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova for a place in the semifinals.
Denmark's third seed Caroline Wozniacki was outplayed 6-2 6-0 by Czech Petra Kvitova, Kim Clijsters beat Justine Henin 2-6 6-2 6-3. - Reuters