STANFORD — It wasn’t the quick second round victory Venus Williams would have liked, but the three-set win will work.
Playing in the tournament where her professional career started 22 years ago, Williams needed 2 hours, 14 minutes to get past World No. 87 Magda Linette.
“Every time I thought the match was over, it wasn’t,” Williams said, channeling her inner Yogi Berra.
“She’s such a fighter. … A lot of times, I wasn’t sure how I lost the point.”
For the first two sets, Linette was counterpunching Williams’ power serve and forehand with her quick defense and smart use of a drop shot that won her key points.
After losing the second-set tiebreaker, Williams kicked up her performance, or as she said, “third gear, or fifth or sixth gear, or whichever gear it is that you use to get the win.”
Williams was far more aggressive on serve receive in the third, and that proved to be the difference as she broke Linette’s serve three times to close out the match.
Up 4-2 in the third, a fan in the grandstand felt the end was near and yelled, “C’mon Venus, it’s getting cold out here.” She must have agreed, as she dominated the final two games, much to the audience’s delight.
Joining Williams in the quarterfinals with wins on Wednesday afternoon are Johanna Konta, Misaki Doi and Saisai Zheng. All three won their second round matches handily in straight sets.
The 25-year-old Konta, who reached the semifinals of the Australian Open earlier this year and is currently ranked No. 18 in the world, is looking to reach her first final on the WTA Tour. She will face Zheng in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Capping off the afternoon session Wednesday was a doubles match featuring Stanford standouts Nicole Gibbs and Carol Zhao. After Gibbs beat Zhao in the first round of the singles draw on Monday, the two teamed up and put up a strong fight before falling 6-4, 6-4 to Jelena Ostapenko and Arina Rodionova.
Atherton native Cici Bellis, 17, advanced to the second round with a straight-sets win Tuesday over Ostapenko, who is ranked No. 37. Bellis won despite playing a day after suffering a frightening eye injury in a doubles match on Monday.
“I think it was actually one of the scariest moments of my life,” Bellis said of the incident.
Playing at the net, she was struck in the eye by her opponent’s overhead shot, causing blurred vision, bleeding and swelling. After being tested for concussion symptoms Monday night and Tuesday morning, she felt comfortable enough to hit the court Tuesday night.
The win over Ostapenko was Bellis’ third in five career matches against top-50 players. If she wins her second round match Thursday against Sachia Vickery, Bellis would reach just her second career quarterfinal on the WTA Tour. Her opponent in that match would be none other than Venus Williams, whom she has idolized her entire life.
Bellis turned one on April 8, 2000. Williams won her first Wimbledon title two months later.