U.S. Open: Venus Williams wins first match since Wimbledon
Venus Williams started slowly, going down a break to unheralded Russian Vesna Dolonts, who had only arrived in the United States Monday morning after experiencing a visa problem and flight delays related to Hurricane Irene. Yet it was Dolonts hitting all the lines and Williams barely finding the court.
But as the first night match of the 2011 U.S. Open progressed, Williams began to work the kinks out of her game. The 31-year-old, after all, hadn't played since losing in the fourth round at Wimbledon, citing a viral illness as she continually withdrew from summer hard-court prep events.
And after the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd wished singer Tony Bennett a happy 85th birthday, it was also able to congratulate Williams on her 6-4, 6-3 first-round victory over the 91st-ranked Dolonts, 22, who was playing only her second U.S. Open match.
Williams, now 51-3 in first-round matches at major tournaments, has won two titles at the U.S. Open, where she has never lost before the fourth round.
"It's great to be back in New York," Williams told the crowd. "It's tough because this is my first match since Wimbledon. I tried my best to be on the ball tonight. My serve is a huge part of my game, my game is built on my serve, and I want to follow that up with a up lot of aggressive play and it was great to see those balls land in."
-- Diane Pucin, reporting from New York
Photo: Venus Williams volleys a return to Vesna Dolonts during their U.S. Open match on Monday. Credit: Andrew Gombert / EPA