First came the tense, 14-stroke point that culminated with Venus Williams slashing a backhand cross-court winner, screaming with clenched fists, arms straights at her side and standing tall against Kateryna Kozlova, a player who had given her trouble at the US Open a few short months ago.
"Wow, an emphatic winner from Venus," ESPN's Chris Fowler exclaimed after the point's final untouchable ball had been pounded.
Then came the post-match conversation with court reporter Sam Smith, the British former WTA pro. Venus was in rare form, eloquent and playful. When Smith offered that Kozlova was born the year that Venus turned pro (1994) and asked how Venus does it at her age, Williams the Elder didn't miss a beat: "Girrrl, I don't know."
The chat escalated (disintegrated?) from there, with the straightforward Smith and Venus speaking tangentially to everything from gray hairs to wrinkles. Smith didn't walk back any of her leading comments or questions, and was roasted a bit on Twitter awhile later.
To her credit, Venus never stopped yukking it up after her tight victory by a 7-6 (5), 7-5 tally.
She will not take verbal volleys but crisp, physical ones into a second-round affair against Stefanie Voegele, a winner in three-sets over Kurumi Nara.
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