Williams, in her first action of tennis since the French Open, advanced after beating Arantxa Rus 6-1, 6-3, in 65 minutes. The former World No. 1 and seven-time Grand Slam champ will play No. 9 Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in the next round.
Since 1997, Venus has always been ranked inside the year-end top-100 except for 2011 when she missed that mark. She’s battled injuries during her career but refused to leave the sport she loves. Williams is the second-oldest player on the WTA ranked list behind the Hungarian Greta Arn.
Venus dropped only six points behind the first serve against the Dutch and saved all seven break points to put pressure on the other side of the net.
Rus dropped almost half of the initial shot points and dropping four breaks to help Williams to seal the win. Venus saved all seven break chances in the opening set and earned breaks in games two and four for a comfortable lead to set the tone for the match.
Rus had a difficult time with Venus’s serve and was unable to move Williams away from her comfort zone. Venus performed two breaks and moved over the top to celebrate her 813th WTA victory.
“I’m still here; I’m still good at this, I love my job. It’s awesome to be back; I love Australia, and it’s a beautiful moment. It’s not easy, but, of course, I have a lot of experience, and I think that helps.”
Also advancing in the tournament was Americans Jessica Pegula, Shelby Rogers, and No. 13 seed Danielle Rose Collins. Pegula upset No. 15 seed Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-4, 6-1, Rogers beat Fiona Ferro of France 6-2, 7-5, and Collins held off Ysaline Bonaventure of Belgium 6-3, 6-3.
No. 13 seed Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia survived a first-round scare by rallying to beat Italy’s Sara Errani 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 in Melbourne.
China’s Zheng Saisai, seeded 11th lose to unseeded Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.
No. 12 seed Caroline Garcia of France and No. 15 seed Polona Hercog of Slovenia also advanced to the second round.