Kastles vs. Explorers: Washington wins 26th straight World Team Tennis match


Venus Williams and fellow Olympian Anastasia Rodionova of Australia chat during their 5-1 women’s doubles triumph, part of the Washington Kastles’ 26th consecutive World Team Tennis victory, a 25-8 rout of the Kansas City Explorers. (Jabin Botsford/For The Washington Post)
July 22, 2012

Her hairstyle flashed with a touch of Olympic flair and as the night progressed, it appeared that Venus Williams’s game was progressing there too.

With red and blue streaks in her braided locks, Williams led the Washington Kastles to an easy 25-8 win over the visiting Kansas City Explorers for their 26th straight World Team Tennis victory. It was the first time this season that the Kastles won all five matches.

Williams captured opening wins at women’s doubles and women’s singles. She was forced to leave early in order to catch an evening flight to London for the Olympics.

“She raised the stakes and the score is proof in the pudding,” said Coach Murphy Jensen. “She showed that Venus Williams is still the elite, if not one of the best players in the history of the game.”

Williams, 32, replaced her younger sister, Serena, who pulled out of the match in order to rest her back for the Olympics. The pair will team to defend their Olympics doubles title.

On Sunday, Williams overcame an erratic serve as she teamed with Anastasia Rodionova for a 5-1 win at women’s doubles. She recorded seven faults and a pair of double faults in the first game, one of which struck Rodionova’s back.

In the fourth game, Williams settled down as Kansas City failed to return four consecutive serves. She clinched the fifth game as she met the ball at the net with a quick right hand.

At women’s singles, Williams controlled Kansas City’s Tetiana Luzhanska and her substitute, Chanel Simmonds, for an easy 5-1 win.

In the third game, she clinched a point with a two-handed, backhand volley that landed on the left line as Luzhanska lunged in the opposite direction. Williams also recorded a pair of aces as her serve became a weapon.

Bobby Reynolds and Leander Paes teamed to win 5-3 at men’s doubles. Paes and Rodionova were 5-3 winners at mixed doubles and Reynolds won 5-0 at men’s singles.

Paes and Rodionova also played their last regular season game of the season as they’ll leave on Monday for the Olympics. Paes will play for India and Rodionova for Australia.

On Monday, Williams will take part in the Olympic torch relay as it navigates through Wimbledon. She’s among the favorites to carry the American flag during Friday’s opening ceremonies. She would be the first tennis player to do so.

“It’s beyond special to get that honor,” Jensen said. “She said that if stuff like that happened. . . . she’s been overpaid and she’s lived life beyond her wildest dreams.”

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