Second-seeded 2010 runner-up Vera Zvonareva and five-time champion Venus Williams were among Wednesday's second-round winners at Wimbledon.
Last year's Wimbledon and U.S. Open runner-up Zvonareva got past fellow Russian Elena Vesnina 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) in 1 hour, 25 minutes on Day 3 of the fortnight. Zvonareva advanced despite striking only 12 winners against Vesnina, who committed 15 more unforced errors (25-10) en route to defeat.
Zvonareva will meet Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova here on Friday, marking a rematch of their semifinal here a year ago, which was won by the Russian in three sets in come-from-behind fashion.
A 23rd-seeded Williams, meanwhile, dropped the first set against 40-year- old Japanese Kimiko Date-Krumm before fighting back for a 6-7 (6-8), 6-3, 8-6 decision at the venerable All England Club.
Williams pulled out the match in the third set by breaking Date-Krumm in the final game. The American jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the stanza with the help of an early service break, but her determined Japanese counterpart broke right back and then consolidated the break with a hold to pull even at 2-all to set the stage for a nail-biting finish.
The bout came to a close on Williams' first match point, as Date-Krumm misfired wide on one final backhand.
The crowd applauded both players vigorously, especially Date-Krumm, who played brilliantly, only to fall to 14-10 in her career matches at the All England Club. She reached back-to-back quarterfinals here in 1993 and 1994.
Date-Krumm came out on fire in the opening set.
The ageless Japanese veteran broke the mighty Williams three times to open a seemingly-commanding 5-1 lead in the first set and, after failing to serve out the set once, had two set points against Williams' serve in the ninth game. Williams saved both before holding, then failed to convert two break points with a pair of backhand errors. Date-Krumm quickly gained a third set point, but Williams ended a lengthy rally with a forehand winner down the line and evened the set at 5-5 a few points later.
Both players then held serve to force a tiebreak, which Date-Krumm controlled early. She won the first three points and built a 6-2 lead, but again couldn't close it out with four more set points.
At 6-6, a Date-Krumm pass barely clipped the line and was upheld by a video review, and she finally won the set when Williams sent a backhand into the net.
The former world No. 1 Williams, however, imposed her will on Date-Krumm for an easy second-set win to set the stage for the dramatic third.
Williams needed 2 hours, 56 minutes to advance. She wound up with 12 aces and broke Date-Krumm seven times, compared to four breaks for the Japanese loser.
This marked the first-ever meeting between Williams and Date-Krumm, who was retired from WTA tennis for nearly 12 years before returning in 2008. The Tokyo resident became the second-oldest woman to reach the second round at Wimbledon in the Open Era (since 1968) when she beat Britain's Katie O'Brien here on Monday.
The 31-year-old seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams has appeared in no less than eight Wimbledon finals, going 5-3 in those affairs.
Up next for the American star will be dangerous Spaniard Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, who straight-setted Romanian Monica Niculescu 6-3, 6-0.
Outside of Centre Court, the start of play on Wednesday was delayed for over three hours because of rain. The wet stuff also wreaked havoc here on Monday.
Fourth-seeded Belarusian star Victoria Azarenka blew past Czech veteran Iveta Benesova 6-0, 6-3 to reach the third round. Azarenka, who has yet to get past the quarterfinals at a major event, was a big winner in Miami earlier this season.
Hot Italian Roberta Vinci, seeded 29th, defeated Canadian Rebecca Marino 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, while the aforementioned Pironkova improved to 7-1 at the AEC over the last two years with a 6-1, 6-4 handling of Croat Petra Martic. Vinci titled on grass in the Netherlands last week. Pironkova, seeded 32nd this year, was a surprise semifinalist here last year.
A bevy of opening-round matches were on Wednesday's schedule, as five seeds reached the second round, and one didn't.
No. 30 American Bethanie Mattek-Sands gave way to little-known Japanese Misaki Doi 6-4, 5-7, 7-5.
Meanwhile, 13th-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska leveled Belarusian Olga Govortsova 6-0, 3-0, retired; No. 16 German Julia Goerges grounded Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3, 6-0; 21st-seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta held off Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-2, No. 24 Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova overcame Croat Mirjana Lucic 3-6, 6-3, 8-6; and 27th-seeded Aussie Jarmila Gajdosova topped Ukrainian Alona Bondarenko 7-5, 6-3.
Several other women recorded first-round wins, including big-serving German Sabine Lisicki, Chinese Zheng Jie and France's Mathilde Johansson. Lisicki is rewarded with a second-round match against third-seeded French Open champion and Australian Open runner-up Li Na of China.