- Associated Press - Monday, June 20, 2011

WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND (AP) - Five-time champion Venus Williams, back on her favorite grass surface, swept into the second round of Wimbledon on Monday with a straight-set win over 97th-ranked Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan.

Williams, who returned to action at Eastbourne last week after an injury layoff of nearly five months, looked right at home at the All England Club as she beat Amanmuradova 6-3, 6-1 on the opening day of the 125th edition of the championships.

Williams kept her opponent waiting for several minutes on Court 2, with Amanmuradova sitting patiently on her courtside chair for the 31-year-old American to arrive.

Once play started, Willliams took Amanmuradova apart in 59 minutes with her hard-hitting all-court game. She served seven aces, broke four times and had 23 winners to only five unforced errors _ none in the second set.

Amanmuradova, who now has lost in the first round at Wimbledon in all four appearances, is taller than Williams at 6-foot-3 and can hit the ball hard. But once Williams found her rhythm, she couldn’t be stopped, winning six games in a row and the last 12 points to close out the match.

Williams made a statement not only with her tennis but with her fashion _ wearing a one-piece playsuit which exposed some of her back.

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal was opening the defense of his men’s title on Centre Court against 91st-ranked American Michael Russell. Also due on Centre Court were Francesca Schiavone and Andy Murray.

Vera Zvonareva, Tomas Berdych and Andy Roddick were scheduled on Court 1.

Williams, who had been sidelined after injuring her hip at the Australian Open, returned last week and won two matches at the Wimbledon tuneup at Eastbourne.

Williams has fallen to No. 30 in the rankings but is seeded No. 23 _ the same position she held when she won the tournament in 2007. Playing in her 15th Wimbledon, she extended her record to 69-9.

Williams‘ second-round opponent will be Japan’s Kimiko Date-Krumm, who became the second oldest women to win a match at Wimbledon, beating Katie O’Brien 6-0, 7-5 on Monday.

The 40-year-old Date-Krumm, the third oldest women to compete at Wimbledon in the Open era and the oldest in this year’s draw, came out of retirement in 2008 but lost in the first round the last two years at the All England Club.

Williams‘ younger sister, four-time champion Serena, is scheduled to face 61st-ranked Aravane Rezai of France on Tuesday in what will be Williams‘ first Grand Slam match in 50 weeks. She also returned at Eastbourne last week, having missed nearly a year after two foot operations and treatment for blood clots in her lungs.

“This is definitely a stepping stone,” said Serena Williams, who is 25th in Monday’s WTA rankings but is seeded No. 7, because of her past success. “To be competing again is great. It definitely is one step in my journey. And I always say life’s a journey, not a destination, and I’m not going to reach my destination today or tomorrow. But this is just a step for the rest of my career.”

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