- Whit Sheppard
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WIMBLEDON, England -- One week ago, if someone had told you there would be one American woman left in the Round of 16 at Wimbledon, odds are your answer would have been three-time champion Venus Williams.
On a blazing-hot Saturday afternoon at the All England Club, the answer suddenly became Shenay Perry after the sixth-seeded Williams fell 7-6 (8), 4-6, 6-4 to No. 26 Jelena Jankovic on Wimbledon's famed Court 2, the "Graveyard of Champions."
Perry, who turns 22 Thursday, eclipsed her best previous Grand Slam singles result with a 7-5, 6-3 win, with on-court temperatures hovering in the low 90s, over Sybille Bammer of Austria to advance to the Round of 16, where she'll meet No. 7 seed Elena Dementieva.
"She's a top-10 player, so I'm going to go in there expecting to see her play her best game and we'll see what happens from there," Perry said.
Williams fought gamely but couldn't fight her way through a nagging left wrist injury and the stubborn Jankovic.
"I'm so excited that I won this match," Jankovic said. "I wanted to go out on the court and give my maximum and just enjoy the play. At the end, I was just so nervous. I think I felt like the racket [weighed] 30 pounds. It was just such a strange feeling."
"I had some chances," Williams added. "You know, that court plays much differently than the Centre Court, so it's even more challenging."
About the wrist, Williams said, "I was having some problems with it that made it tough."
Perry is slowly getting acclimated to the Wimbledon grass, about which she said, "I think I'm growing to like it but it's not my favorite surface."
Unseeded Perry, ranked 62nd, says she's "actually been winning ugly," but how ugly can that be after successive wins over German qualifier Kristina Barrois, Great Britain's Melanie South and now Bammer?
Williams, meanwhile, is checking out of Hotel Wimbledon earlier than she has in all but two of her previous nine fortnights here. Only a shocking second-round loss to Karolina Sprem in 2004 and a first-round loss in her inaugural Wimbledon in 1997 came earlier in the tournament than Saturday's disappointing outcome.
Asked how she felt about Perry advancing, Williams said, "I mean, it's a nice story, [but] I've never really seen her play, to be honest."
Unfortunately for Williams, who won a scintillating final here last year in three sets over fellow American Lindsay Davenport, she'll have plenty of time to watch Perry and the rest of the women in the second week.
As for Perry, she's looking forward to Monday's matchup against Dementieva and a chance to advance to her first career Grand Slam quarterfinal.
"I'm not going to go in there expecting to have an easy get on her serve. I'm just going to play my game and if she happens to serve badly, then good for me. But I'm not expecting her to."
Whit Sheppard is a Paris-based sportswriter who is covering Wimbledon for ESPN.com. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of the 14 women from the United States who were in the 2006 Wimbledon draw, most thought only one would reach the second week. Only one player did, but it wasn't Venus Williams. Whit Sheppard explains.