LONDON, June 21 — After five frustrating injury-plagued months on the sidelines, normal service was quickly resumed for Venus Williams at Wimbledon yesterday as the five-times champion crushed Akgul Amanmuradova 6-3, 6-1 to reach the second round.
Moving smoothly and striking the ball with the power that has made her such a force on Wimbledon’s grass, there were no signs of the abdominal-related problem that wiped out most of the year and left her seeded 23rd.
Under a warm sun with the grass lush and green after two weeks of relentless rain, it was just like old times as Williams donned an eye-catching outfit and blasted past her opponent from Uzbekistan, ranked 97th in the world and now a first-time loser in all five Wimbledon appearances.
For once, the 31-year-old American, whose last Wimbledon title came in 2008, was the smallest woman on the court as the 6ft 3ins (1.90m) Amanmuradova had two inches on her.
Williams, though, looked the superior athlete and said her run at Eastbourne last week, where she had three tough matches, helped get her back in the swing.
“I missed being out here playing, especially since having left the game about a year ago so highly ranked, and things were going so well,” she said.
“To play a few matches in Eastbourne I think helped me to feel pretty comfortable here.
“Having not played a lot, I had a little pressure on me to come out and swing as usual. There was a little bit of tension. I have a lot of expectations to go out there and play as I do in practice, which I’ve been hitting the ball really well.”
Williams said she had only been able to practise within the past month after pulling out of the Australian Open seven minutes into her third-round match.
“Australia was not ideal, but hopefully I’ve recovered from that,” she said.
“I try to be smart now, coming back from injury, not doing too much, just coming back and being smart; like not playing doubles here is a smart move. Coming back has been real slow and something I couldn’t rush.
“That’s the beauty I think of being able to have a long career, is being able to use the experience that you learn on the court.”
Williams said she had no difficulty filling her time away from the game as she studied interior design and promoted herself to business development manager for her company.
She obviously also found time to work on her clothes for Wimbledon because, as ever, her ensemble was the talk of the Pimm’s tent.
To the uninitiated, it may have resembled a pair of baggy shorts held together by a net curtain after it had been caught in an extractor fan but Williams declared it a simple design.
“It’s just kind of like a trendy dress; it’s a jumper, jumpers are very now, as is lace,” she said.
“The shoulders have a lot of draping, which is also in the moment, it’s fun. I’m really into zippers, so it has like a focal point of a zipper in the front.
“The back is kind of like a peek-a-boo. I’m always trying to do something different and fun.”
Just in case anyone was still unclear, she added: “I’m really trending towards simplicity. I’m not sure why. It’s just how I feel right now.” — Reuters