Zvonareva, Venus cruise to wins

Venus Williams hits a return to Akgul Amanmuradova during first round Wimbledon action in London on...

Venus Williams hits a return to Akgul Amanmuradova during first round Wimbledon action in London on Monday, June 20, 2011. (REUTERS/Eddie Keogh)

SPORTS NETWORK

, Last Updated: 4:00 PM ET

WIMBLEDON, England -- Second-seeded 2010 runner-up Vera Zvonareva and five-time champion Venus Williams were among those notching first-round wins on a rainy Monday at Wimbledon.

Zvonareva needed all three sets to get past unheralded American Alison Riske 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, while a 23rd-seeded Williams rolled past Uzbekistan's Akgul Amanmuradova 6-3, 6-1 in just under an hour on the famed grass at the All England Club. Zvonareva was whipped by Williams' younger sister Serena in last year's finale here.

Up next for Zvonareva will be fellow Russia Elena Vesnina.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus, who ripped seven aces and posted four service breaks against an overmatched Amanmuradova on Day 1, has appeared in no less than eight Wimbledon finals, going 5-3 in those affairs.

The former world No. 1 American star is playing just her second tournament since the Australian Open. She injured her hip during the first major of the year and was also nursing an abdominal injury and didn't return until last week's Wimbledon tuneup in Eastbourne.

"It's always great to be back," Venus said. "To play a few matches at Eastbourne helped me feel pretty comfortable here. All in all, I'm pretty pleased. I only see pluses for today. I missed being out here playing."

Venus played in a questionable outfit on Monday, an all-in-one piece with shorts, cutout sleeves and a triangle cut in the back. The white outfit has a "V" neckline and features a gold belt and zipper in the front.

"It's just kind of like a trendy dress. It's fun," Venus said.

Next up for the 31-year-old Venus will be ageless 40-year-old Japanese Kimiko Date-Krumm.

Sixth-seeded French Open runner-up Francesca Schiavone waited out a rain delay in the third set before getting past resurgent Aussie Jelena Dokic 6-4, 1-6, 6-3. Rain started to fall with the score tied at 1-1 in the third set on Centre Court, and following a brief delay to close the retractable roof, Schiavone returned to win five of the next seven games to advance.

The 2010 French Open champion Schiavone was a Wimbledon quarterfinalist two years ago.

Dokic was a runner-up on grass in The Netherlands last week.

Meanwhile, 12th-seeded two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova reached the round of 64 with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Chinese Zhang Shuai, while 19th-seeded Belgian Yanina Wickmayer defeated American Varvara Lepchenko 7-5, 6-3.

Mild upsets came when Italian Sara Errani took out 17th-seeded Estonian Kaia Kanepi 6-1, 6-4, Russian Ksenia Pervak dismissed 22nd-seeded Israeli Shahar Peer 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, and 19-year-old American Christina McHale knocked out 28th-seeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova 2-6, 6-1, 8-6. Kanepi was a surprise Wimbledon quarterfinalist last year.

Several other women posted Day-1 wins, including Vesnina, Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru and the aforementioned Date-Krumm, who took out Britain's Katie O'Brien 6-0, 7-5. Dulgheru handled 36-year-old American Jill Craybas 6-2, 6-4.

Rain started to fall just after 5:00 pm local time, wreaking havoc on the Day-1 schedule, as 18 matches were either suspended or postponed.

Fourth-seeded Belarusian star Victoria Azarenka was leading Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4, 3-2 when play was called for the day.

Eighth-seeded 2010 Wimbledon semifinalist Petra Kvitova and 15th-seeded former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic were among those who had their first-round matches postponed on Day 1. The lefthanded Kvitova, who was a runner-up on grass in Eastbourne last week, will meet American Alexa Glatch on Day 2.

The top half of the women's draw is scheduled to see action on Tuesday, including matches for current world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, third-seeded French Open champion and Australian Open runner-up Li Na, fifth-seeded former Wimbledon winner Maria Sharapova, a seventh-seeded Serena and ninth-seeded former Wimbledon runner-up Marion Bartoli, who's fresh off her grass-court title in Eastbourne last week.

The former No. 1 and 13-time major champion Serena will open defense of her titles here against France's Aravane Rezai. Serena captured a second straight and fourth overall Wimbledon championship last year before getting sidelined for 11 months due to a well-documented series of health issues. The American superstar finally returned to action in Eastbourne last week, going 1-1 in her brief preparation for Wimbledon.

Wozniacki will face Spaniard Arantxa Parra Santonja, while Li will battle Russian Alla Kudryavtseva and the three-time major champion Sharapova will be opposed by fellow Russian Anna Chakvetadze on Day 2.

The 2011 Wimbledon winner will collect $1.78 million.


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