Venus Williams returned to the court with a fresh new look under the bright lights in New York. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

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.

Live results from Day 2

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.”

American Melanie Oudin was unceremoniously bounced on Day 1. (Paul J. Bereswill/AP)

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...

Playing my first match today @usopen 2011 around 3pm local time.Exited to be back on AA stadium. IdemoooooooTue Aug 30 15:31:11 via Twitter for BlackBerry®Novak Djokovic

Men - (1) Novak Djokovic, (2) Rafael Nadal, (5) David Ferrer

Women - (1) Caroline Wozniacki, (4) Victoria Azarenka, (6) Li Na, (7) Francesca Schiavone

More U.S. Open coverage:

Photo Gallery: Day 1 action

Federer wonders if U.S. Open courts are too slow

No magic for Mel this time: Oudin falls in first round

American Ryan Harrison’s second Open ends early

Sharapova shrieks her way to three-set win

U.S. Open preview: Rivalries and comebacks