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Venus Williams is feeling like a kid again after first-round victory at Wimbledon

Williams, 31 and seeking her sixth Wimbledon title, easily defeats Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan and next will face Kimiko Date-Krumm, at 40 the second-oldest woman to win a Wimbledon match.

June 20, 2011|By Diane Pucin
  • Venus Williams returns a shot to Akgul Amanmuradova on her way to a 6-3, 6-1 victory in her Wimbledon opener Monday.
Venus Williams returns a shot to Akgul Amanmuradova on her way to a 6-3, 6-1… (Kirsty Wigglesworth / Associated…)

Reporting from Wimbledon, England — For a change, Venus Williams will get to be the young one.

Williams, 31, served seven aces and generally played big, powerful, wise grass-court tennis befitting a five-time Wimbledon champion, in defeating Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan, 6-3, 6-1, in her opener Monday.

For her efforts, Williams earned a second-round match against Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm.

Date-Krumm, 40, became the second-oldest woman to win a Wimbledon match when she beat Britain's Katie O'Brien, 6-0, 7-5.

One of the younger American players in the draw had a redemptive performance Monday. Christina McHale, a 19-year-old from New Jersey who had led her first-round French Open match against Sara Errani, 5-0, in the third set before losing it, 9-7, held her nerves and upset 28th-seeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova, 2-6, 6-1, 8-6.

"I'm excited to have pulled that one out," McHale said. "It definitely feels much better. I was just trying to focus on each point. That's something I learned from that loss in Paris."

Among the winners on the men's side were defending champion and top-seeded Rafael Nadal, 10th-seeded American Mardy Fish and Britain's hope, fourth-seeded Andy Murray.

After rain caused the Centre Court roof to be moved into place for only the third time in its three-year existence, Murray put a scare into the fervent crowd by dropping the first set before recovering to beat Spain's Daniel Gimeno-Traver, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-0.

The weather caused the postponement of 31 matches including that of three-time Wimbledon runner-up Andy Roddick, now scheduled to be first on Court 1 on Tuesday.

A puzzling Tuesday assignment was the placement of John Isner and Nicolas Mahut as the fourth match on Court 3.

Isner and Mahut played the epic three-day, 11-hour 5-minute match in the first round here last year, and after this year's draw was released last week showing that Isner and Mahut somehow were set to meet in the first round again, even Murray suggested the two history makers might merit a Centre Court appearance.

Serena Williams, Venus' younger sister, has the Tuesday kickoff assignment on Centre Court, the spot reserved for the women's defending champion. Serena, who was sidelined because of foot injuries and a pulmonary embolism for almost a year until she returned to play last week, meets France's Aravane Rezai.

Venus, seeded 23rd, debuted on Court 2 on Monday. She caused a buzz by arriving a few minutes late and wearing an outfit she called a jumper. It was a lacy, short one-piece with sleeves that resembled bat wings, and a long slit in the back.

Williams, who has studied fashion design, said, "Jumpers are very now, as is lace. The shoulders have a lot of draping, which is also in the moment. It's just kind of like a trendy dress."

Date-Krumm is less trendy, more traditional and, before Monday, hadn't won a match at Wimbledon since 1996. She didn't play here from 1997 until 2009 (she retired after the 1996 season) and lost in the first round the last two years.

But Date-Krumm was a quarterfinalist in 1995 and a semifinalist in 1996 so she has grass-court ability. She's never played Venus, though, and Date-Krumm says all the pressure is on the youngster.

"Venus is, of course, a good player, especially on grass," Date-Krumm said. "So for me, it's nothing to lose."

What it means for Williams is that she will have to change her fan preference.

"I thought it was amazing when she came back," Williams said. "I always root for her, actually. This time I'm playing her, so I will be rooting for me."

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