WIMBLEDON, England — Five points into her opening match at Wimbledon, Venus Williams slipped and went sprawling on the grass she loves.
WIMBLEDON, England — 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 two-all and swept the final four games. "Having won this title multiple times, you get that sense of what it takes to win," she said. "And I definitely have a good grip on that — what it takes to win this title." Andy Roddick followed Williams onto Centre Court and beat Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3. Roddick, seeded sixth, had only nine unforced errors and hit 46 winners, including 20 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. Play took place on a cloudless afternoon, prompting 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." 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 a sore left knee that has bothered her for two months, although she reached the French Open final less than three weeks ago. Former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic beat Julia Goerges 6-4, 7-6 (0). 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. On the men’s side, No. 5-seeded Juan Martin del Potro never faced a break point and swept Arnaud Clement 6-3, 6-1, 6-2. No. 12 Nikolay Davydenko beat Daniel Evans 6-2, 6-3, 6-3. Americans Robby Ginepri, Kevin Kim and Wayne Odesnik lost. Ginepri won the first three games, then lost 18 of the next 21 and was beaten by 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. The unseeded Hewitt and Federer are the only former champions in the men’s draw. Hewitt plays del Potro next. Williams prepared for Wimbledon as usual on hard courts back home in Florida and didn’t play a grass-court warmup tournament. But after her slow start, she looked at home on the lawn. In one game she smacked a backhand return up the line for a winner, then did the same thing from the other wing. Her second serve was unsteady, but she lost only six points on her first serve while hitting 29 winners and committing only 11 unforced errors. "On the grass, I think you have the opportunity to make fantastic shots that are very entertaining and great plays," Williams said. "I think the game is more fast-paced. In a lot of ways, it makes it a lot more exciting." Williams is only 6-4 since early April, but Wimbledon always brings her out of the doldrums. She’s 51-4 at the All England Club since 2000, when she won the title for the first time. She’s seeded third but the tournament favorite with London bookmakers. ______ In photo: Venus Williams of U.S. plays a return to Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland during their first round singles match at Wimbledon, Tuesday, June23, 2009. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.