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Serena Williams battles past gallant qualifier

PICTURED: Serena Williams

SERENA WILLIAMS, chasing a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam Singles crown, scraped into the third round at Wimbledon following a tense tussle with teenager Kaja Juvan on Thursday evening.

The American veteran, a runner-up at the All England Club last year, crumbled during the opening set on No.1 Court - where her sister Venus succumbed to 15-year-old rising star Cori 'Coco' Gauff on Monday.

Qualifier Juvan sped into a remarkable 3-0 lead within seven minutes and made her 37-year-old opponent fight for a further six minutes before she finally won a game.

Slovenian Juvan, the world no.133, took less than 60 seconds to restore her three-game cushion and the next two games went with serve.

Juvan, making her debut in the Wimbledon main draw, was unfazed with Williams serving to stay in the set. The tentative Williams sent a feeble overhead smash into the net to gift the set to the 18-year-old after 27 minutes.

The unforced errors from seven-time Wimbledon Singles champion Williams that littered her first set suddenly started to evaporate.

Williams broke serve for a 2-0 lead and with the two-game cushion broke again in the seventh game and served out the set to level matters with more aggressive play.

The deciding set started off very promising for the appreciative crowd until Williams broke serve to carve out a 4-2 lead, which greatly affected the youngster.

Juvan fell apart in the next game and appeared to have given up, with Williams expected to rack up another win when serving for the match.

But the Youth Olympic Games gold medallist played a commanding game to snatch the next game to 30 and held serve to start a mini comeback and trail 5-4.

Williams' fighting spirit returned when it mattered, having resorted to playing percentage tennis earlier in the set, and she aced the lively looking Slovenian with another typical burst of brilliance.

And Williams' good friend Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex who is officially on maternity leave, was at SW19 to witness the fascinating success.

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