Veteran Venus Williams advanced to the #AUSOpen second round. Photo: Julian Smith/EPA

MELBOURNE – Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams turned back the clock to stage a stirring come-from-behind victory and reach the second round of the Australian Open Tuesday.

The unseeded 38-year-old American lost the first set to 25th seed Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania but clawed her way to a gutsy 7-6 (3/7), 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 win in two hours 39 minutes.

“It was a real marathon, it was really hard to get on top of her,” said the American, who played her first Australian Open in 1998.

“She was in great form and it was pretty hairy there, a second set tie-breaker, you never know if you're going to be in or out.

“I'm hoping this tough match will set me up for the rest of the tournament.”

Venus Williams (right) is congratulated by Mihaela Buzarnescu after winning their women's first round match at the Australian Open. Photo: Julian Smith/EPA
Venus Williams (right) is congratulated by Mihaela Buzarnescu after winning their women's first round match at the Australian Open. Photo: Julian Smith/EPA

Williams, who has reached the final at Melbourne Park twice, most recently in 2017 when she lost to sister Serena, will meet Alize Cornet of France next.

Agence France-Presse (AFP)