Date-Krumm becomes oldest woman to reach Wimbledon last 32
Kimiko Date-Krumm set up a showdown with defending champion Serena Williams as the Japanese veteran defeated Romania's Alexandra Cadantu 6-4, 7-5 on Thursday to become the oldest woman to reach the third round at Wimbledon in the Open Era.
At 42, Date-Krumm's presence in the last 32 means she has surpassed Britain's Virginia Wade, who reached the same stage aged 39 years 362 days in 1985. The Japanese player is back in the last 32 at Wimbledon for the first time since her run to the semi-finals 17 years ago.
And the reward for Date-Krumm, who also reached the third round at the Australian Open in January, is a clash with world number one Williams, who brushed aside French qualifier Caroline Garcia to give the Japanese player a first career meeting with the five-time Wimbledon champion.
"I love Wimbledon. I have many good memories," said Date-Krumm. "It's very special for me. I'm very happy to be the third round, even at 42. I think it is amazing." Williams admitted she has tremendous respect for Date-Krumm's longevity, even if the 31-year-old insists there is no chance she will still be playing at the same age as the Japanese star.
"I've never played her but I have so much respect for her," Serena said. "She's so inspiring to be playing such high level tennis at her age. And she's a real danger on the grass court, I know that. "I didn't see myself playing at 31, so I definitely do not see myself playing at 42."
As well as admiring Date-Krumm's passion for the game, Serena also has a healthy awareness of the potential threat she poses to her title bid. "Kimiko has great hand eye coordination. She returns unbelievable shots," Serena said.
"It doesn't matter how hard you hit it, she sees the ball and gets it back. "She has great hands, has a wonderful great volley, comes to the net a lot, which on grass can be tricky. She plays really flat, so the ball stays really low.
"I definitely will have to be ready. It's for sure not going to be easy, but I'll be ready." While Serena has never faced Date-Krumm before, she will seek advice from her sister Venus, who is absent from this year's tournament due to injury but won an epic three-set battle against the veteran at Wimbledon in 2011
"I did see that match. I think I lost four years of my life watching that match," Serena added. "So I will definitely be talking to Venus and figuring out what I can do to do the best that I can in my next match."
Cadantu is ranked just three places below world number 84 Date-Krumm and had shocked Austrian 28th seed Tamira Paszek in the first round. But the 23-year-old was appearing in the second round of a Grand Slam for the first time.
In contrast, Date-Krumm was playing in her 104th Grand Slam match and competing at Wimbledon for the 12th time. Date-Krumm enjoyed a fairytale run to the Wimbledon semi-finals in 1996 before suddenly announcing her retirement.
She returned to the tour 12 years later and enjoyed two notable landmarks, becoming the oldest player to beat a top-10 opponent and the second oldest to win a WTA Tour title when she triumphed in Seoul aged 38.