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Venus Williams advances in Charleston

April 3, 2014

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (AP) — Venus Williams advanced in the tournament where her top-ranked sister could not, battling back to beat Chanelle Scheepers 7-5, 7-5 on Wednesday at the Family Circle Cup.

It was another long day for No. 28-ranked Williams, who needed almost 2 hours to finish the straight-sets victory after falling behind 3-1 in the first set and 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. And I’ve been playing well from behind lately, which is something you really have to be able to do to win big matches,” Williams said.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion has struggled with injuries and Sjogren’s syndrome, a fatigue-causing autoimmune disease, during the past two years. She was on the clay in Charleston for 2 ¼ hours 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 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 younger sibling. “She gave an amazing effort yesterday, and she’s going to get some well-deserved time off.”

Venus Williams, who won the Family Circle a decade ago, now faces No. 20 Eugenie Bouchard.

Second-seeded Jelena Jankovic later scored a 6-0, 6-3 victory over American Lauren Davis. Jankovic won the Family Circle back in 2007 and was runner-up last year to Serena Williams.

Earlier Wednesday, American Sloane Stephens was upset 6-4, 6-4 by 19-year-old Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine, who notched her fourth career victory over a top 20 player.

“I started to believe more in myself that I can compete with players like this, top level, top 20 and top 10,” said Svitolina, who is making her first appearance on the green clay in Charleston. “I think this is the key.”

Third-seeded Sara Errani of Italy also advanced — she was leading 6-3 when qualifier Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands retired. Fourth-seeded Sabine Lisicki of Germany beat American Vania King 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

In other results, No. 14-seeded Andrea Petkovic of Germany bagled Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain 6-0, 6-0 and Peng Shuai ousted 15th-seeded Madison Keys of the United States 6-1, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4).

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