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Venus, Safina lead parade of seeds

FIVE-TIME champion Venus Williams recovered from an early stumble in her opening match at Wimbledon yesterday to beat Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland 6-3, 6-2.

It was Williams' first appearance on Center Court at the All England Club since the 2008 final, when she beat sister Serena for her second Wimbledon title in a row.

"I really enjoyed being out there," Venus said. "It's a special moment when you walk back as defending champion on that court."

Venus slipped five points into the match, one of several wobbly moments as she began her bid for a three-peat. She double-faulted in the opening game and had to erase two break points. She was passed the first two times she reached the net. She slipped and nearly fell a second time.

"It's grass," she said. "You're going to slip sometimes."

Williams found her footing, winning 14 consecutive points to take a 5-1 lead. She had another spurt in the second set after losing serve for 2-2, and swept the final four games.

Top-seeded Dinara Safina also moved into the second round, with a straight-sets victory over Lourdes Dominguez Lino.

Still seeking her first grand slam title, Safina won 7-5, 6-3.

It was the Russian's first match at a major tournament since losing the French Open final to compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova this month. Safina is 0-3 in grand slam finals.

Sixth seeded Jelena Jankovic clawed her way back from 2-5 down in the second set to beat German Julia Goerges 6-4, 7-6 (0).

While the bubbly Serbian skipped back into the locker room, her namesake Jelena Dokic buried her head in a towel after her return to Wimbledon ended in a 6-3, 5-7, 2-6 defeat by Tatjana Malek of Germany.

Almost four weeks after Dokic left court in floods of tears, when her Roland Garros challenge ended with a back injury, the Serbia-born Australian suffered another blow at the grasscourt major.

A dizzy spell brought on by what she thought might be a virus, ruined her day and she had to have her blood pressure taken on court.

"I wasn't feeling great at the beginning of the second. And that's where things just started going downhill," said Dokic.

Another sentimental favorite, Kimiko Date Krumm, making her return to Wimbledon after a 13-year absence, also wilted under the heat in her opening match.

The 38-year-old Japanese made her professional debut in 1989 before her opponent yesterday, Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, was even born.

Despite being old enough to be Wozniacki's mother, Date Krumm gave the 18-year-old ninth seed the run around in the opening set before fading away to a 7-5, 3-6, 1-6 defeat.

China's Li Na also advanced, the 19th seed easing past Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan 7-6 (5), 6-0.

In men's play, No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro never faced a break point and swept Arnaud Clement 6-3, 6-1, 6-2. No. 12 Nikolay Davydenko beat Daniel Evans 6-2, 6-3, 6-3.

Andy Roddick rallied past Jeremy Chardy of France 6-3, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3. Roddick, seeded sixth, had only nine unforced errors and hit 46 winners, including 20 aces. The American lost just eight points on his first serve.

American Robby Ginepri won the first three games, then lost 18 of the next 21 and was beaten by 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-4, 6-1, 6-1. The unseeded Hewitt and Roger Federer are the only former champions in the men's draw.


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