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Venus with a new outfit, Nadal took a good start in Wimbledon

A proud son and athlete as Rafael Nadal took his Wimbledon title defense yesterday , beating Michael Russell 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 while his parents watched from the Royal Box.

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

In keeping with tradition, the defending men’s champion played the first match on Centre Court at the All England Club – and the top-ranked Spaniard put on a worthy performance to begin the 125th edition of the championships.

“I started so-so in the first set, but after that I start to hit very well the forehand and I think I finished playing a very good level,” Nadal said.

Nadal, coming off his sixth French Open title and 10th overall Grand Slam championship, double-faulted to go down a break 4-2 in the first set against the 91st-ranked Russell. But Nadal buckled down, ran off six straight games to take the set and go up a break in the second. He was in command the rest of the way against the 33-year-old American.

Five-time women’s champion Venus Williams, back on her favorite grass surface, also swept into the second round with a straight-sets win over 97th-ranked Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan.

Venus Williams

Venus Williams

Williams’ second-round opponent will be Japan’s Kimiko Date-Krumm, who became the second oldest women to win a match at Wimbledon, beating Katie O’Brien, 6-0, 7-5, on Monday.

”It’s always great to be back,” Williams said. ”To play a few matches at Eastbourne helped me feel pretty comfortable here. All in all, I’m pretty pleased. I only see pluses for today. I missed being out here playing.”

Williams made a statement not only with her tennis but with her fashion sense – wearing a one-piece playsuit which exposed some of her back. The outfit featured cutout sleeves, a deep V neckline and a gold belt wrapped around the waist.

”It’s a jumper,” Williams said. ”Jumpers are very ‘now,’ as is lace. The shoulders have a lot of draping. It’s a kind of trendy dress. It’s fun. The back is a like a cutout or peekaboo. I’m always trying to do something different and fun.”

In another featured women’s match, 2010 runner-up Vera Zvonareva downed 115th-ranked American Alison Riske, 6-0, 3-6, 6-3.

Sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych, who lost to Nadal in last year’s final, moved into the second round with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 win over Filippo Volandri of Italy.

Tenth-seeded American Mardy Fish beat Spain’s Marcel Granollers, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-4. Big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, playing his first Wimbledon, topped Marc Gicquel of France, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-3. No. 14 Stanislas Wawrinka defeated Potito Starace of Italy, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

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