CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – Venus Williams advanced in the tournament where her top-ranked sister could not, battling from behind at the Family Circle Cup to defeat Chanelle Scheepers 7-5, 7-5 on Wednesday.
It was another long day for Williams, ranked No. 28 in the world, who needed 1 hour, 50 minutes to finish the straight-set victory over the South African. Williams fell behind 3-1 in the first set and trailed 4-1 in the second.
“She was playing so well, but the good thing is that when I get behind, I give even more effort and get even more focused,” Williams said. “And I’ve been playing well from behind lately, which is something you really have to be able to do to win big matches.”
The seven-time Grand Slam champion has battled injuries and Sjogren’s syndrome, a fatigue-causing autoimmune disease, during the past two years. She was on the green clay in Charleston for 2 hours, 15 minutes on Tuesday in a three-set victory and said she has been ill this week.
“I’m still dealing with the bug, but my goal is just to hang in there until it hopefully goes away and then I can just continue to play my way into the tournament and play stronger,” she said. “But it’s definitely a challenge.”
On Tuesday night her sister, Serena Williams, was stunned 6-4, 6-4 by Jana Cepelova of Slovakia, ranked No. 78 in the world, in the second round. Serena Williams said later she was tired and needed time off to regroup.
“I definitely can see where she is tired and her body is taxed,” Venus Williams said of her sister. “She gave an amazing effort yesterday, and she’s going to get some well-deserved time off from winning.”
Venus Williams, who won the Family Circle a decade ago, now faces No. 20 Eugenie Bouchard.
No. 8 Jelena Jankovic, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, later scored a 6-0, 6-3 victory over American Lauren Davis. Jankovic won the Family Circle back in 2007 and was runnerup last year to Serena Williams.