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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Anna Skillfully Returns Media's Lobs

WIMBLEDON, England -- Accompanied by considerable media fanfare, Anna Kournikova advanced to the third round Wednesday at Wimbledon, beating Maria Alejandra Vento 7-5, 6-4.

As usual, the photogenic Kournikova attracted a horde of zoom lenses for her match on Court 2. She overcame three set points at 4-5 in the first set, then raced to a 4-1 lead in the second set.

Kournikova's postmatch news conference included a series of questions from the British press concerning her personal life. The 18-year-old Russian said she didn't have a boyfriend despite being seen recently holding hands with NHL star Sergei Federov. A tabloid photo this week of Kournikova wearing a diamond ring fueled further speculation about her personal life.

As for the media scrutiny, she smiled and said: "If I would be bothered by it, that would not be good for me. I would get nervous, or whatever. I have to be cool about it."

Kournikova, seeded 17th, is one victory away from a potential fourth-round match against Venus Williams. The sixth-seeded Williams beat Elena Tatarkova 6-3, 6-4.

Turning to the questions of Martina Hingis' early upset Tuesday and subsequent exit from the finals because of an ankle injury, Kournikova felt sympathy for Hingis.

"It's very unpleasant for anybody to lose in the first round, and especially of a Grand Slam," she said. "When you lose, it's disappointing. You feel like you lost everything, but I'm sure she'll come back and be very strong."

Other top names in women's tennis closed ranks around world number one Hingis following her shocking and rapid fall from grace.

"She is a very good player, a great player, and there is no reason for her not to come back from that. I don't see why she should have trouble going on," said Steffi Graf, whose defeat of Hingis in the French Open final caused her so much anguish.

On Wednesday, Graf overcame a nearly flawless first set by stocky South African Mariaan de Swardt to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 and advance to the third round.

Hingis was thrashed 6-2, 6-0 on Tuesday in the Wimbledon first round by 16-year-old qualifier Jelena Dokic in one of the biggest shocks in modern Wimbledon history.

(For other results, see Scorecard.)