WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Five points into her opening match at Wimbledon, Venus Williams slipped and went sprawling on the grass she loves.

The five-time champion recovered from her stumble at the start Tuesday and defeated Stefanie Voegele 6-3, 6-2.

It was Williams’ first appearance on Centre Court since the 2008 final, when she beat sister Serena for her second Wimbledon title in a row.

“I really enjoyed being out there,” Venus said. “It’s a special moment when you walk back as defending champion on that court.”

Williams’ tumble was one of several wobbly moments as she began her bid for a three-peat. She double-faulted in the opening game and had to erase two break points. She was passed the first two times she reached the net. She slipped and nearly fell a second time.

“It’s grass,” she said. “You’re going to slip sometimes.”


Williams found her footing, winning 14 consecutive points to help take a 5-1 lead. She had another spurt in the second set after losing serve for 2-all, and swept the final four games.

“Having won this title multiple times, you get that sense of what it takes to win,” said Williams, who is seeded third. “And I definitely have a good grip on that – what it takes to win this title.”

Other players also took a tumble – Andy Roddick went down once during his victory, and even a ball boy fell on his face – and the biggest stumble was by Marat Safin. The two-time Grand Slam champion, who plans to retire at the end of the year, lost to qualifier Jesse Levine of Boca Raton, Fla., 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4.

“Not the way to finish Wimbledon story,” Safin said. “But anyway, it’s OK. That’s life.”

Levine, ranked 133rd, earned his first tour-level victory this year and his first win ever over a top-50 player.

“Marat’s a great player, and I’ve watched him play growing up,” the 21-year-old Levine said. “So it’s a pretty surreal experience to be his last match at Wimbledon.”


American Melanie Oudin also pulled off a surprise in her tournament debut. The 17-year-old from Marietta, Ga., earned her first win in a major event by beating No. 29-seeded Sybille Bammer 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

“I was really nervous most of the match today, but finally in the third I started to calm down,” Oudin said. “I’m really glad I pulled it out.”

Even on cozy Court 17, plenty of spectators witnessed Oudin’s win. Attendance was 45,955, largest in tournament history.

Roddick followed Williams onto Centre Court and beat big-swinging Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3. Roddick, seeded sixth, had only nine unforced errors and hit 47 winners, including 21 aces. He improved to 20-3 in tiebreakers this year.

Roddick was Wimbledon runner-up to Roger Federer in 2004 and 2005, but Andy Murray of Britain is considered the biggest obstacle for Federer this year.

“As far as who’s talking about what, I don’t really care,” Roddick said. “I just want to go out and win matches.”


The new retractable roof again worked well, keeping rain away for a second successive day. A cloudless afternoon prompted an official on the club’s public-address system to urge that fans use sun block.

“It looks really nice, the roof,” Williams said. “We haven’t had to use it yet. It’s kind of ironic. But I’m very sure it will get some use.”

No. 13-seeded Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open champion, saved two match points to beat Lucie Hradecka 5-7, 6-2, 8-6. This year’s winner at Roland Garros, Svetlana Kuznetsova, defeated Akiko Morigami 6-3, 7-6 (1).

Top-ranked Dinara Safina opened another bid for her first Grand Slam title by beating Lourdes Dominguez Lino 7-5, 6-3. Safina said she was hampered by left knee tendinitis that has bothered her at times the past two months, although she reached the French Open final less than three weeks ago.

Kimiko Date Krumm, a 38-year-old wild card who came out of retirement last year, lost in her first Wimbledon match since 1996 to No. 9-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1. No. 17-seeded Amelie Mauresmo, the 2006 champion, defeated Melinda Czink 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.

On the men’s side, No. 3 Andy Murray began his bid to become the first British man to win Wimbledon since 1936 by beating American Robert Kendrick 7-5, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-4.

U.S. men went 2-6 – the other Americans eliminated were Robby Ginepri, Kevin Kim, Bobby Reynolds, Wayne Odesnik and Rajeev Ram.

Ginepri won the first three games, then lost 18 of the next 21 to fall to 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-4, 6-1, 6-1. Ginepri was bothered by a neck injury he suffered last week and received treatment from a trainer three times during the match.

British wild card Alex Bogdanovic’s record at Wimbledon fell to 0-8 when he lost to No. 20 Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

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