Venus Dazzles in Opener

Venus Williams began her quest for a sixth Wimbledon title in phenomenal fashion.

Published June 23, 2009 05:19


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LONDON, UK - Venus Williams took the first step towards a sixth Wimbledon title on Tuesday, cruising past Stefanie Voegele in the first round of the grass court Grand Slam, 63 62. Also advancing was world No.1 Dinara Safina.

Williams, who won this title in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008, holds the No.3 seed this year and was totally untroubled by the 97th-ranked Voegele, firing 29 winners - including 11 aces - to just 11 errors during the 63 62 win. The 19-year-old Voegele was playing a Top 10 player for the first time in her career.

"It's a special moment when you walk back onto that court as defending champion and throw those balls up for that first point," Williams said. "Obviously I feel very good here, and I take advantage of that feeling."

"I was just happy to play on Centre Court," Voegele commented. "I tried to be aggressive, I tried to play my game, but my serve just wasn't good enough against her return. I feel from the baseline things were more even, but the big difference was the serve and return. But it was a very good experience. I got to play on Centre Court at the biggest tournament of the year."

Safina, who has been ranked No.1 since April 20 and the top seed here despite never making it beyond the third round, was shaky in her first round match but managed to get past Lourdes Domínguez Lino in straight sets, 75 63. The powerful Russian hit more unforced errors than winners, 30 to 28, but was able to hit through the tenacious Spaniard regardless.

In similar fashion to Safina, Jelena Jankovic had more errors than winners, 15 to 10, but was able to close an aggressive Julia Goerges out in a perfect tie-break, 64 76(0). Jankovic, the No.6 seed this fortnight, has never been beyond the fourth round here, falling in that round the last few years.

"Today was a tough round. I get a lot of confidence from passing these kinds of rounds. She was serving well and hitting the ball quite hard, and on the grass that gives you a hard time," Jankovic said. "I stayed tough in all of the important moments, especially when I was down 5-2 or 5-3 in the second set. I managed to raise my level and close the match out in the tie-break."

Other Top 8 seeds moving through were No.5 seed and reigning French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, a 63 76(1) winner over Akiko Morigami, and No.7 seed Vera Zvonareva, who finished her match against wildcard Georgie Stoop, 76(0) 46 64. No.9 seed Caroline Wozniacki, No.11 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, No.13 seed Ana Ivanovic, No.15 seed Flavia Pennetta, No.17 seed Amélie Mauresmo, No.19 seed Li Na and No.20 seed Anabel Medina Garrigues all won as well. The other five seeds in action - No.22 seed Alizé Cornet, No.25 seed Kaia Kanepi, No.29 seed Sybille Bammer, No.30 seed Agnes Szavay and No.32 seed Anna Chakvetadze - were all ousted.

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