JUNE 23 2009 17:21h
Despite her age, the Japanese player gave 18-year-old Danish opponent Caroline Wozniacki a run for her money on her return to the tournament
Despite her age, the Japanese player gave 18-year-old Danish opponent Caroline Wozniacki a run for her money on her return to the tournament on Tuesday, taking the first set and going 3-1 up in the second before tiredness and injury got the better of her.
As Date Krumm grew more weary, world number nine Wozniacki, who was born a year after the Japanese made her first Wimbledon appearance, came into her stride, taking the opportunity to get back into the contest and win 5-7 6-3 6-1.
Date Krumm, the oldest woman in this year's singles draw, is making her 30th Grand Slam appearance after coming out of retirement last year having been encouraged to return to the game by her racing driver husband Michael Krumm.
"He loves sports and he loves tennis," she told reporters. "After we got married, he always said to me, 'You should go back on tour, you like tennis...just enjoy it, you've got nothing to lose'."
But Date Krumm, who said she made the final decision to come back to the women's tour after playing an exhibition match in Japan with Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova last year, added that the game was very different now.
"Women's tennis is more speedy and more powerful," she said. "It's tough, very tough... but I enjoy the challenge."
She managed to keep pace with Wozniacki for most of the first two sets, as the pair took it in turns to break serve and kept the crowd on the edge of their seats with long rallies and well placed shots.
But an hour and a half into the match Date Krumm, cheered on by her German husband, was beginning to look increasingly weary and in pain, stopping to stretch her leg against the umpire's chair while her trainer was called out.
Spectators fanned themselves with sunhats as the match was interrupted for a medical break while a physio treated Date Krumm's legs with an ice pack.
But the former world number four, who has not played at Wimbledon since 1996, failed to regain her momentum.
"Until the second set, the beginning of the second set, I thought it was perfect for me," she said. "Then I felt a little bit tired, and then in the third set I started to get a little bit of cramp. Then I couldn't move anymore."
Grimacing with every shot Date Krumm slowly crumpled and Wozniacki, fresh from winning her fifth career singles title at Eastbourne last week, ran away with the match, breaking twice to win four straight games and the final set.