Posted June 25, 2012 on
AP on Fox
Juan Carlos Ferrero
Five-time champion Venus Williams lost in the opening round of Wimbledon for the first time since 1997, falling 6-1, 6-3 to Elena Vesnina of Russia.
Williams lost the first five games and then saved two set points before making it 5-1. But she was broken for the fourth time in the next game as Vesnina clinched the set with a forehand return winner.
Williams put up more of a fight in the second but was broken in the sixth game when she missed a forehand. Vesnina clinched the match with a service winner.
Williams was making her 16th straight appearance at Wimbledon and had not lost in the first round since her debut.
Third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska and Grand Slam champions Sam Stosur and Li Na won in straights sets to move into the second round.
Radwanska, who has twice reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, beat Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 6-3, 6-3 in the day's first match on Court 2. The Polish player next will face Vesnina.
Rybarikova took an injury time-out after her left leg gave way and she fell behind the baseline while trailing 2-1 in the second set. After treatment, she returned to the match with her leg heavily wrapped and did not seem troubled the rest of the way.
The fifth-seeded Stosur, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, cruised to a 6-1, 6-3 win over Carla Suarez-Navarro of Spain. The hard-hitting Australian has traditionally struggled on the grass at Wimbledon, losing in the first round in the past two years and never advancing past the third round, but she was always in command Monday.
Li, the 2011 French Open champion who is seeded No. 11, swept past Ksenia Pervak of Russia 6-3, 6-1. No. 15 Sabine Lisicki of Germany, a semifinalist last year, beat Petra Martic of Croatia 6-4, 6-2.
The first seed eliminated was No. 16 Flavia Pennetta, who fell 6-4, 6-3 to fellow Italian Camila Giorgi.
Play began right on time at 11:30 a.m. (1030 GMT) on the outside courts under cloudy skies but without any threat of the rain that has soaked London and parts of Britain for much of the past few weeks. Temperatures reached 22 degrees Celsius (72 F).
First up on Centre Court was top-ranked defending champion Novak Djokovic, who was facing former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero. Six-time champion Roger Federer was to play Albert Ramos of Spain on Court 1 - the first time since 2003 that he wasn't assigned to Centre Court for the opening round.
Second-seeded Rafael Nadal, coming off his record seventh French Open title, opens Tuesday against No. 80-ranked Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil. Nadal has No. 4 Andy Murray in his half of the draw and could meet Djokovic or Federer in the final.
Either matchup would renew a rivalry. Nadal is 18-10 against Federer, and they've played in a record eight major finals, with Nadal winning six.
But Nadal is not about to proclaim himself the favorite to win Wimbledon for a third time.
''I'm very happy the way things went the last couple of months,'' he said. ''But thinking about winning another title here in Wimbledon is arrogant and crazy. That's something I cannot think about, no?''
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