Venus Wins, Francesca Falls
Published June 21, 2010 12:00
LONDON, England - Playing in the 50th Grand Slam tournament of her career, Venus Williams made an impressive start, beating Rossana de los Ríos in the first round of The Championships on Monday evening, 63 62.
Williams, a five-time champion at Wimbledon - the third-most of any woman in the Open Era - and this year's No.2 seed, fired 31 winners to make it past her fellow thirty-something for the second time in two career meetings.
"Everything was pretty straightforward," Williams said. "I've been practicing on grass since Wednesday, so I had a good feel for it. I was ready to go for it."
Williams, who made headlines around the world in Paris with her 'illusion' dress, wore another unique design Monday, though nowhere near as eyebrow-raising.
"Here it's all about white. There's no illusion this time," Williams said. "My dress was inspired by Tina Turner. She's an amazing, amazing artist. She's a survivor - she reinvented herself. Plus she looks great. I've loved her forever."
Next up for Williams is Ekaterina Makarova, a 64 76(2) winner over Agnes Szavay. Makarova is fresh off her first title at Eastbourne last week - so she has built momentum on grass. They will be playing for the first time.
"I thought it was going to be a lot more overwhelming, but the court isn't as big as it seems on TV," said Robson, the junior champion here in 2008. "It was really good to play on Centre. There were loads of people cheering me on. I could have done more in the tie-break, but she's No.3 for a reason."
"She was serving especially well today," said Jankovic, who withstood 13 aces during the match. "It's amazing. She is very young and has a really great first serve. They have great facilities in England, great coaches too - they have everything to help her become a great player. It will come down to her mentality, her hard work and how much she's willing to give on the court."
In the first major upset, Vera Dushevina sent new French Open champion Francesca Schiavone packing with a 67(0) 75 61 victory. Schiavone, the No.5 seed, had four break points at 5-5 in the second set and could have served for it, but lost that game and was outplayed from there by the flat-hitting Russian.
"It was a different surface, a different feeling," said Schiavone, a quarterfinalist here last year. "She played very well. I didn't take my chances. I'll work like always - you can enjoy wins, but at the end you have to come back to work."
"I was the junior champion here and I know how to play on grass," Dushevina, a finalist at Eastbourne in 2005, said. "Last year I played against her on clay and beat her, and on clay for me it's tougher than on the grass, so I felt good."
Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, who are both playing their first Wimbledons in years after missing the last few while retired, both moved through comfortably as well. No.8 seed Clijsters beat Maria Elena Camerin in an early match, 60 63, while No.17 seed Henin beat Anastasija Sevastova, 64 63.
"It was a good feeling to be back," said Henin, who is coming off a grass court title in 's-Hertogenbosch. "I missed the atmosphere, the way we breathe tennis, live tennis over here. You feel the tradition of the game. I think it's fantastic I have the opportunity to live it again. I feel lucky about that."