By Sarah Young
LONDON (Reuters) - Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams chalked up her first victory at the tournament for three years, adopting an underdog mentality to help her to dispose of Spaniard Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor 6-4 4-6 6-2.
"I'm not here to surprise anyone. I've got nothing to prove, nothing to hide and nothing to lose. For me its just about continually playing better," 34-year-old Williams, the oldest female left in the main competition, told reporters after her match on Monday.
Making her 17th appearance at Wimbledon, a competition she missed last year with a back injury, Williams served 11 aces, eventually overpowering her opponent in the third set after a netcord had given the 22-year-old Spaniard the second.
The U.S. star, who won her last Wimbledon singles title in 2008 and is currently ranked 30 in the world, has struggled to progress beyond the early stages of a grand slam singles event over the past three years.
She had an auto-immune disease diagnosed in September 2011 and since losing in the fourth round of Wimbledon that year has lost in the first or second round of every grand slam in which she has competed, with the exception of her third-round exit from last year's Australian Open.
"On a daily basis I'm trying to get the best out of myself for me. That's all I can ask," she said when asked about her health.
Her victory over 56-ranked Torro-Flor, means Williams has gone one step better at Wimbledon than at the French Open last month, when she bowed out against Slovakia's Anna Schmiedlova in the first round.
"It feels good to win. It feels good to play well against an opponent who's playing well," she said, having waved and smiled to warm applause from the crowd after securing victory.
While complaining that the Wimbledon courts are slower than in previous years, she recalled fond memories of the All England Club. It was the tennis venue for the 2012 Olympic Games, where she won gold in the women's doubles with her sister, Serena.
"The Olympics here, best moment. Awesome, that was my whole thing in life at the time," she said.
The pair will also compete in the doubles at the All England Club and world No.1 Serena starts her Wimbledon singles campaign on Center Court on Tuesday.
(Editing by David Goodman)