Venus back in the groove
London - Five-time champion Venus Williams cruised into the second round at Wimbledon with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Uzbekistan's Akgul Amanmuradova on Monday.
Venus had missed most of the last five months after suffering a hip injury that forced her to pull out of the Australian Open during a third round match against Andrea Petkovic.
But the 31-year-old has finally recovered and looked in good shape as she made a strong start to her bid for a first Grand Slam title since she last won Wimbledon in 2008.
There will be sterner tests of Venus's form and fitness to come but next up for the former world number one is Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm.
After her long spell on the sidelines, Venus made the quarter-finals on her return to action at Eastbourne last week and performed well enough to suggest that it wouldn't be long before she was into her intimidating stride at Wimbledon.
That proved to be the case as she eased past Amanmuradova in exactly an hour on Court Two.
Venus had kept her opponent waiting for several minutes before finally making her grand entrance.
The American sauntered to her seat wearing an extravagant white outfit bearing the EleVen logo of her own fashion label.
With a large opening in the back of her top and some lace-style embroidery, it looked like Venus was wearing a pair of net curtains rather than a tennis outfit.
The diva image was completed by a pair of shorts and a typically bling handbag.
While Venus has always been keen on style, there is plenty of substance to her game as well and her formidable Wimbledon record was enough to convince tournament officials to make her the 23rd seed even though she is ranked 33rd in the world.
By the end of the tournament even that bump up the seedings may seem too conservative as Venus tries to make amends for last year's shock quarter-final exit against Tsvetana Pironkova.
Amanmuradova, ranked 99th, had lost in the first round on her previous three visits to Wimbledon, so it was no surprise to see Venus dominate in the first set.
She broke in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead thanks to some thunderous groundstrokes and was never troubled as she served out the first set.
Venus kept up the pressure in the second set and quickly broke to move 2-1 ahead when Amanmuradova sent a forehand tamely wide on break point.
She cemented that advantage with another break before putting Amanmuradova out of her misery.