Venus survives scare in ‘graveyard’ to edge past Russian teen

FORMER Wimbledon champion Venus Williams came back from the dead to deny the “Graveyard of Champions” another scalp.

The 26-year-old Williams suffered a surprise third-round defeat by Jelena Jankovic on the All-England Club’s infamous court two a year ago and was a set and a break down to Russian teen Alla Kudryavtseva before fighting back to claim a 2-6 6-3 7-5 win.

The 19-year-old Miami-based Kudryavtseva produced some inspired tennis in a first-round match marred by disputed line calls and was just two points from pulling off a stunning victory on her Wimbledon debut.

Williams, whose sister Serena triumphed on the same court in her opening match 24 hours earlier, rescued a potentially perilous position with a 119mph serve and broke her inexperienced opponent in the all-important 12th game of the deciding set.

As the three-time former champion breathed a huge sigh of relief, Kudryavtseva left the court in tears.

Defending champion Amelie Mauresmo was in determined mood as she breezed past Jamea Jackson of the US 6-1 6-3 on Centre Court.

“I feel good,” said Mauresmo, who had been hampered by a thigh problem recently.

The French number four seed will now meet Austrian Yvonne Meusburger in round two.

Former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova had to dig deep to beat determined Yung-Jan Chan of Taipei on 6-1 7-5 on Court One.

The number two seed, a fairytale winner here in 2004, had been struggling with a shoulder injury recently and at times looked sluggish, especially in the second set.

However, in the end the former world number one found enough to see off Chan and complete her victory in one hour and 29 minutes.

Britain’s Katie O’Brien is through to the second round after she beat German Sandra Kloesol 6-3, 7-5. O’Brien will now face Dutch girl Michaella Krajicek — sister of the 1996 men’s champion Richard — in round two. Krajicek beat Israel’s Tzipora Obziler 6-2 6-7 (6-8) 6-1.

Number 10 seed Daniela Hantuchova thrashed Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets in under an hour. “Tactically I played very smart. I have started to feel really good on grass,” she said.

Hantuchova, 24, will face another Russian, Elena Likhovtseva in the second round after her three-set win over Italy’s Maria Camerin.

Compatriot and eight seed Anna Chakvetadze beat Angelique Kerber of Germany 7-5 6-3.

Russian number five see Svetlana Kuznetsova came from behind to beat Ukrainian Julia Vakulenko 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Her compatriot Nadia Petrova, the 11th seed, beat America’s Vania King 6-0 6-1.

One Russian seed out, though, is Olga Poutchkova, who was beaten 6-1 6-3 by her compatriot Elena Vesnina.

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