NEW YORK, NY, USA - The Williams sisters were in danger of being beaten in the first round of a doubles Grand Slam for the first time since their initial Grand Slam outing at the 1997 US Open, but rallied to survive a terrific effort by Sílvia Soler-Espinosa and Carla Suárez Navarro at the US Open on Thursday.
The Spaniards came into this tilt with a losing record as a duo, but showed no intimidation early on against the 13-time Grand Slam champions and two-time US Open winners.
And with Venus Williams perhaps fatigued from a more than three-hour singles match on Wednesday and Serena Williams also possibly feeling the effects of having played singles earlier in the day, the sisters dropped the first set in a tie-break. They quickly seized back the momentum and rolled through the second set, however, were broken for the only time in the match to go down 2-1 in the third set. But they broke right back and went on to a 67(5) 60 63 triumph in the crowd-pleasing encounter.
Though they don't have the Grand Slam résumé of the Williamses, eighth-seeded Australians Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua have been quite impressive in their brief history at majors, highlighted by runner-up showings at the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year. They began what they hope will be another deep Grand Slam run with a 64 61 defeat of Sorana Cirstea and Yanina Wickmayer.
On a perfect day for seeds, sixth-seeded Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke, 10th-seeded Sania Mirza and Zheng Jie, 11th-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Safarova, 12th-seeded Julia Goerges and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, 13th-seeded Cara Black and Marina Erakovic, 14th-seeded Kristina Mladenovic and Galina Voskoboeva, 15th-seeded Jelena Jankovic and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and 16th-seeded Anabel Medina Garrigues and Flavia Pennetta also made the second round.
No.1 seeds Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci kick off their title defense against Daniela Hantuchova and Martina Hingis on Friday in Hingis' first Grand Slam match since returning to the WTA earlier this summer after almost six years away from the game. Also in first round action will be No.2 seeds and reigning Roland Garros champions Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina and No.4 seeds and reigning Wimbledon champs Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai.