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Venus makes fashion statement in first-round Wimbledon romp

Back on one of tennis' top stages, Venus Williams cut a familiar figure Monday at Wimbledon, from her latest original, somewhat-see-through outfit to her trademark booming serves and aggressive groundstrokes.

Williams smacked seven aces at up to 118 mph, totaled 23 winners to only five unforced errors, and overwhelmed 97th-ranked Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan, 6-3, 6-1, in the first round at the All England Club.

The seven-time major champion recently was off the tour for about five months with a bum hip, including missing the French Open, and this is only her fourth tournament in nearly a year.

"It's a good place to start. And this is kind of like a home for her. She loves it," said Williams' hitting partner, David Witt. "She feels confident out here, and in women's tennis, 'confident' goes a long way."

There sure was nothing shy about a playsuit Williams called "trendy": white and sleeveless, with a deep "V" neckline, a triangle cut out in the back, a gold belt and gold zipper.

"Jumpers are very 'now,' " she explained, "as is lace."

Not as sensational as the corset-like black lace number with skin-toned undergarments that drew so much attention at the 2010 French Open, Monday's romper looked something akin to a toga and surely would have won the approval of her Roman goddess namesake.

"She always has something interesting," said the 6-foot-3 Amanmuradova, a rare opponent taller than the 6-foot-1 Williams. "It's good to have something different on the tour. I wear shorts, and everybody is criticizing that I look like a guy. If she feels comfortable, perfect. Personally, I wouldn't wear this, because it's not going to look good on me. But if it's white, you can play. That's the rule. If everybody wears the same, it's boring."

Williams' outfit -- and, of course, superb play, which betrayed no lingering effects from her injury -- generated the most buzz on Day One in the 125th edition of the grass-court Grand Slam tournament.

"I do realize I don't have as many matches," said Williams, only 5-2 this season and only 9-3 since last July. "So, yeah, for sure, I know I need to kind of come out firing. Been pretty good at that in the past -- and today."

Others reaching the second round included 10-time major champion Rafael Nadal, whose parents sat in the Royal Box during his 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory over 90th-ranked Michael Russell of Houston; No. 4 Andy Murray, and No. 10 Mardy Fish.

It was Nadal's first chance to play the tournament's opening match on Centre Court, an honor given to the defending men's champion, and something he called a "big emotion." Bad knees forced Nadal to withdraw in 2009, a year after he won Wimbledon for the first time.

He was more blase about his parents' special seats, saying: "It doesn't make any difference to me whether I see them in my [guest] box or in the Royal Box. But I think it was a beautiful experience for them."

Nadal now faces another American, 69th-ranked Ryan Sweeting of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who dropped the first two sets against Pablo Andujar of Spain before coming all the way back to win, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (1), 6-1.

It'll be Sweeting's third match against Nadal this year. Nadal won the others in straight sets, including at the Australian Open.

"They keep putting me up in the top half of the draw. I don't know what the deal is," Sweeting said. "What can I say? He's obviously one of the toughest opponents to play on any surface."

Only two seeded players lost Monday: No. 30 Thomaz Bellucci was beaten in straight sets by 35-year-old Rainer Schuettler, the oldest man in the field; and women's No. 22 Shahar Peer was eliminated, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, by Ksenia Pervak.

Otherwise, the most significant development probably was the rain that began falling at about 5 p.m., resulting in the suspension of 14 matches in progress and the postponement of 17 others.

Two matches were played under the retractable roof, which was added to Centre Court before the 2009 tournament.

That included two-time Wimbledon semifinalist Murray's 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 victory over 59th-ranked Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain. Murray is trying to give Britain its first male champion at any Grand Slam tournament since 1936, and he overcame a slow start against Gimeno-Traver, a first-round loser for the eighth time in 12 major tournaments.

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