Two months after her fourth-round loss at Wimbledon while sporting a much-ballyhooed white romper, Venus Williams returned to the court at the U.S. Open wearing another flashy outfit.
In a fashionable black dress with a white lace back, the two-time tournament champion claimed a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Vesna Dolonts on Monday night, serving notice that she’s healthy enough to make a run.
Williams had not played a match since losing at Wimbledon on June 27 and has played only 10 matches over the past 50 weeks — which prevented her from entering the field as a seeded player and should have the top players in her part of the draw paying close attention to her play.
A hip injury caused Williams to pull out of the Australian Open and miss the next four months leading into the grass-court season. After her Wimbledon exit, it was a viral illness that sidelined her for the entire hardcourt season in the buildup to the U.S. Open, but she looked anything but rusty in her return, hitting 28 winners and six aces and converting 15 of 20 net points.
“I just want to play tennis,” a pleased Williams said after her victory. “It doesn’t matter what the tournament is, I just want to play. Obviously the Open is huge, but I just want to play.”
Meantime two of the tournament’s favorites struggled in their first-round matches. Maria Sharapova needed three sets over 2 hours, 34 minutes to get past 19-year-old Heather Watson and Wimbledon champion and fifth-seeded Petra Kvitova crashed out of the tournament in a 7-6 (3), 6-3 loss to Alexandra Dulgheru.
American Melanie Oudin, whose dramatic run to the quarterfinals in 2009 captured national attention, failed to recapture her magic at Flushing Meadows as she failed to win a game in the first set against Italy’s Romina Oprandi before clawing back only to lose the second set and the match, 6-0, 7-6 (7).
On the men’s side, American Mardy Fish cruised into the second round as did No. 3 Roger Federer, No. 7 Gael Monfils and No. 9 Tomas Berdych. Alejandro Falla pulled the lone true upset on the men’s side so far, going the distance to knock off No. 15 Victor Troicki in five grueling sets, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 7-5.
Top seeds in action Tuesday...
Men - (1) Novak Djokovic, (2) Rafael Nadal, (5) David Ferrer
Women - (1) Caroline Wozniacki, (4) Victoria Azarenka, (6) Li Na, (7) Francesca Schiavone
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