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Venus Williams beats Voegele at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON, England - Five points into her opening match atWimbledon, Venus Williams slipped and went sprawling on the grassshe loves.

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

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

"I really enjoyed being out there," Venus said. "It's aspecial moment when you walk back as defending champion on thatcourt."

Williams' tumble was one of several wobbly moments as she beganher bid for a three-peat. She double-faulted in the opening gameand had to erase two break points. She was passed the first twotimes she reached the net. She slipped and nearly fell a secondtime.

"It's grass," she said. "You're going to slip sometimes."

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

"Having won this title multiple times, you get that sense ofwhat it takes to win," she said. "And I definitely have a goodgrip on that -- what it takes to win this title."

Andy Roddick followed Williams onto Centre Court and beat JeremyChardy 6-3, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3. Roddick, seeded sixth, had only nineunforced errors and hit 46 winners, including 20 aces. He improvedto 20-3 in tiebreakers this year.

Roddick was Wimbledon runner-up to Roger Federer in 2004 and2005, but Andy Murray of Britain is considered the biggest obstaclefor 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 awayfor a second successive day. Play took place on a cloudlessafternoon, prompting an official on the club's public-addresssystem to urge that fans use sun block.

"It looks really nice, the roof," Williams said. "We haven'thad to use it yet. It's kind of ironic. But I'm very sure it willget some use."

Top-ranked Dinara Safina opened another bid for her first GrandSlam title by beating Lourdes Dominguez Lino 7-5, 6-3. Safina saidshe was hampered by a sore left knee that has bothered her for twomonths, although she reached the French Open final less than threeweeks 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 ofretirement last year, lost in her first Wimbledon match since 1996to No. 9-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.

On the men's side, No. 5-seeded Juan Martin del Potro neverfaced a break point and swept Arnaud Clement 6-3, 6-1, 6-2. No. 12Nikolay 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 andwas beaten by 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-4, 6-1, 6-1. Ginepriwas bothered by a neck injury he suffered last week and receivedtreatment from a trainer three times during the match.

The unseeded Hewitt and Federer are the only former champions inthe men's draw. Hewitt plays del Potro next.

Williams prepared for Wimbledon as usual on hard courts backhome 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 awinner, then did the same thing from the other wing. Her secondserve was unsteady, but she lost only six points on her first servewhile hitting 29 winners and committing only 11 unforced errors.

"On the grass, I think you have the opportunity to makefantastic shots that are very entertaining and great plays,"Williams said. "I think the game is more fast-paced. In a lot ofways, it makes it a lot more exciting."

Williams is only 6-4 since early April, but Wimbledon alwaysbrings her out of the doldrums. She's 51-4 at the All England Clubsince 2000, when she won the title for the first time. She's seededthird but the tournament favorite with London bookmakers.


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