Tennis-Wildcard Venus through to second round at her 23rd Wimbledon

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LONDON (Reuters) -Five-times champion Venus Williams, playing as a wildcard in her 23rd Wimbledon, showed vintage form to beat Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu 7-5 4-6 6-3 and reach the second round on Tuesday.

The oldest woman in the draw at 41, Williams had not won a match since reaching the second round at the Australian Open in February but showed she was far from finished on her return to a favourite place.

The Court Three clash of veterans, one of several held over due to rain on Monday, was the 271st victory of a remarkable Grand Slam career for Williams and, despite serving 10 aces, did not come easy.

The American had powered to a 5-1 lead in the final set but then wobbled as Buzarnescu, 33, saved a match point and came back to 5-3.

The Romanian failed to convert three break points in the final game, but saved another match point, before Williams made sure of victory at the third attempt.

If Court Three was a step down from the Centre Court stage of old, Williams was happy to be back on the green grass of South-west London.

"I'm here to play on whatever court I'm put on," she told reporters. "As long as I win on that court, that's all I care about. Court Three is quite a nice court. I have a lot of great memories on that court, singles and doubles.

"To me it was like going home. Whatever happens happens. All good to me."

When asked what her tennis future might hold, Williams could only laugh.

"I don't think anyone's asked me that in a while," she said. My future will be on tomorrow when I play another match. That is exactly what it is."

Williams' next opponent will be Tunisian Ons Jabeur, who this month became the first Arab woman to win a WTA event and beat Sweden's Rebecca Peterson 6-2 6-1 in her first-round match.

"Ons I would say is one of my favourite people on tour. Honestly, she's just breaking down barriers. The first woman from her country to do anything that she's doing," said Williams.

"She just won her first tournament, so she's got to be feeling great...I think she's inspiring so many people, including me."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)

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