Wincing Williams prevails under U.S. Open lights

Mon Aug 30, 2010 10:07pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Venus Williams showed some effects of a troublesome knee but displayed enough of her trademark power to beat Italian Roberta Vinci 6-4 6-1 in the opening night match of the U.S. Open on Monday.

Twice former champion Williams winced after landing on her left leg while striking a swinging forehand volley in the first set but the third-seeded American battled on in her first match since Wimbledon.

"I landed on that leg on the swing volley," Williams said in an on-court interview, but gave credit to the 65th-ranked Vinci for putting up a good fight and clawing back from 3-0 to tie the first set 4-4.

"I was playing against a tough opponent today. She hits that slice so well. She didn't make a lot of errors ... so I was really happy to get through after not playing in forever."

Williams, the top American in the draw since her sister and world number one Serena Williams did not enter the championship due to a foot injury, blasted in 10 aces under the lights on the Arthur Ashe Stadium center court.

"It's not the same without two Williamses," Venus told a crowd of nearly 24,000. "I have a lot of big shoes to fill with just one Willliams here."

She celebrated the opening night occasion by wearing a short black party dress with fringe on the bottom.

"It's my evening dress," said Williams about her design. "It's so much fun wearing lace on the court."   Continued...

<p>Venus Williams of the U.S. celebrates her opening night match victory over Roberta Vinci of Italy during the U.S. Open tennis tournament New York, August 30, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton</p>