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Just like old times for Venus

Venus Williams, who was off the tour for about five months with a hip injury, wears a new outfit and routs Akgul Amanmuradova.

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Venus Williams, who was off the tour for about five months with a hip injury, wears a new outfit and routs Akgul Amanmuradova.

WIMBLEDON, England — Back on one of tennis' top stages, Venus Williams cut a familiar figure Monday at Wimbledon, from her latest original, somewhat see-through outfit to her trademark booming serves and aggressive groundstrokes.

Williams smacked seven aces at up to 118 mph, totaled 23 winners to five unforced errors and overwhelmed 97th-ranked Akgul Amanmuradova 6-3, 6-1 in the first round at the All England Club.

The seven-time major champion recently was off the tour for about five months with a bum hip and missed the French Open. This is only her fourth tournament in nearly a year.

"It's a good place to start. And this is kind of like a home for her. She loves it," said Williams' hitting partner, David Witt. "She feels confident out here, and in women's tennis, 'confident' goes a long way."

There sure was nothing shy about a playsuit Williams called "trendy": white and sleeveless, with a deep "V" neckline, a triangle cut out in the back, a gold belt and gold zipper.

"Jumpers are very 'now,' " she explained, "as is lace."

Williams' outfit and her superb play generated the most buzz on Day 1.

"I do realize I don't have as many matches," said Williams, only 5-2 this season and 9-3 since July. "So, yeah, for sure, I know I need to kind of come out firing. Been pretty good at that in the past, and (Monday)."

Williams next faces Kimiko Date-Krumm, 40, whose 6-0, 7-5 defeat of British wild-card entry Katie O'Brien was her first victory at Wimbledon since reaching the 1996 semifinals.

Others reaching the second round included 10-time major champion Rafael Nadal, whose parents sat in the Royal Box during his 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory over 90th-ranked Michael Russell; No. 4 Andy Murray; and No. 10 Mardy Fish of Tampa.

It was Nadal's first chance to play the tournament's opening match on Centre Court, an honor given to the defending men's champion, and something he called a "big emotion." Bad knees forced Nadal to withdraw in 2009, a year after he won Wimbledon for the first time.

Nadal now faces another American, 69th-ranked Ryan Sweeting of Fort Lauderdale, who rallied past Pablo Andujar 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 ( 7-1), 6-1.

The most significant development probably was the rain that began falling at about 5 p.m., resulting in the suspension of 14 matches in progress and the postponement of 17 others.

More rain is forecast today.

>>FAST FACTS

Wimbledon

Through July 3 at All England Club, London

Today's key matches

Men: No. 2 Novak Djokovic vs. Jeremy Chardy, No. 3 Roger Federer vs. Mikhail Kukushkin, No.  8 Andy Roddick vs. Andreas Beck, John Isner vs. Nicolas Mahut

Women: No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki vs. Arantxa Parra Santonja, No. 3 Li Na vs. Alla Kudryavtseva, No. 7 Serena Williams vs. Aravane Rezai

TV: 7 a.m., ESPN2

Just like old times for Venus 06/20/11 [Last modified: Monday, June 20, 2011 9:14pm]
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