By Toby Davis
LONDON (Reuters) - After all the shocks and spills of the opening week, top seed Serena Williams remained impregnable as she unleashed her full arsenal to move almost effortlessly into the last 16 at Wimbledon on Saturday.
A crushing 6-2 6-0 win over Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm offered a reminder that while her closest rivals in the women's game are often vulnerable to upsets, she is an immovable object at the top of the tree.
With main rivals Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka departing in the second round, Williams spoke optimistically of a new generation coming through.
The fact the she was playing a 42-year-old, perhaps told a different story.
"I feel like this might be the beginning of maybe the future," she said. "Eventually there's going to have to be a shift of players."
Williams, considered an old-stager herself despite being 11 years younger than her opponent, never allowed Date-Krumm to gain a foothold in the match, crunching winners and firing down eight aces with her usual high levels of aggression.
The fact that the Japanese had got this far was a testament to her wiles, but without the weapons to threaten arguably the greatest athlete the women's game has ever seen, she came up well short of turning the match into a contest.
The 84th-ranked Date-Krumm originally retired two years before Williams set foot on the Wimbledon grass for the first time, but is currently enjoying a late bloom in her career having returned to the court in 2008 after a 12-year break.
The spirit that helped her reach a Wimbledon semi-final in 1996 is there but the raw power now required to make an impression against the likes of Williams is missing.
The pedestrian Date-Krumm serve seemed to belong to a different era and was ruthlessly dispatched as Williams took the first set in 35 minutes, breaking three times.
The second set was an exercise in brutality as Williams wrapped up the match without dropping another game to extend her winning streak 34.
The top seed had been made to wait before getting under way. She was scheduled third on Court One, but when the two men's matches that came before dragged on she was switched to Centre for a maiden appearance under the roof lights.
She complained that maybe Wimbledon's tradition of having two men's matches on the showpiece arenas was unfair.
"Well, it's their policy," she said. "I'm always fighting for the ladies. Maybe one day we'll get two matches and the men will get one match, and maybe they'll be able to switch back and forth hopefully."
The fans may disagree. The two men's matches on Court One on Saturday produced more than six hours of entertainment, while Williams's brief appearance lasted 61 minutes.
Williams, chasing a sixth Wimbledon title and 17th grand slam overall, will face Germany's 23rd seed Sabine Lisicki in the fourth round.
"I feel like she's serving massive," she said. "I feel like she plays some of her best tennis on grass. She always pulls an upset. It will be a really tough match for me. I have to get serious to play it."
(Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Ken Ferris)