Early on, it appeared that this would be another ho-hum, routine, early-round victory for the two-time champion.
The crowd perked up, however, after the 20-year-old saved it and proceeded to take the next three games to level the set. At that point, the fans took their eyes off their phones and the focus returned to the attraction in front of them.
In danger of letting the lead slip away, Venus bore down and quickly took the 11th game, helped by some booming serves that the Frenchwoman had no answer for.
When Dodin served to force a tiebreaker, Venus took the first three points to get to triple set point. After saving one, the world No. 48 ripped a shot down the line on the next point and, somehow, Williams retrieved it to keep the point alive. The 37-year-old proceeded to hit a vintage winner for the set.
The crowd erupted, and for the first time all evening it felt like a primetime match at the US Open.
Venus bolted to a 5-2 lead yet again in the second set, but the big-hitting Dodin refused to go away quietly. Announcing herself to the tennis world as a gritty competitor, she fought back to 4-5 before Williams secured the 10th game to capture a hard-fought win.
With her signature twirl for the adoring Flushing faithful, the seven-time Slam champion moved into the third round of the US Open for the 16th time in her illustrious career. It’s also the seventh straight major that she’s reached the round of 32.
Williams, who reached the finals of the Australian Open and Wimbledon earlier this year, is now 17-3 in Grand Slam play in 2017.
The champion in 2000 and 2001 will play 95th-ranked Maria Sakkari on Friday for a spot in the fourth round.
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