A limping Davenport advances at Wimbledon | AspenTimes.com

A limping Davenport advances at Wimbledon

Steven Wine
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Lindsay Davenport of the US., returns to Renata Voracova of the Czech Republic, during their Women's Singles, first round match, at Wimbledon, Tuesday, June 24, 2008. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

WIMBLEDON, England ” With Wimbledon devolving into a fashion contest, former champion Lindsay Davenport’s retro getup may have trumped all other outfits.

Her sleeveless white top and pleated skirt were very 1980s, and the wrap on her right leg ” with bandages extending from mid-thigh to mid-calf ” looked like something out of the British Museum.

Playing her first match at Wimbledon since 2005, Davenport whacked enough winners to compensate for a sore knee Tuesday, and she hobbled past Renata Voracova 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.

Moving more comfortably into the second round were Maria Sharapova and her new all-white, tuxedo-style outfit, which prompted 13 fashion-related questions at her postmatch news conference. Other winners in straight sets included defending champion Venus Williams, Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick on a second successive mild, dry day at the All England Club.

While photographers focused on Sharapova’s ensemble, and Roddick poked fun at Roger Federer’s opening-day sweater, Davenport resorted to tactics that had her winning ugly. Back on the women’s tour after a hiatus to have her first child, the 1999 Wimbledon champion showed she still possesses the grass-court game to beat anyone ” even on one leg.

“I wouldn’t come here if I didn’t think I would do really well,” Davenport said.

Idle for two months after sitting out the clay-court season, Davenport feared rust would be a problem in the opening round. But she was troubled more by a sore knee that has bothered her in recent weeks.

Playing on Court 2 ” the “Graveyard of Champions” ” Davenport held a match point in the 10th game of the second set but failed to convert it. Before the final set began, she required treatment from a trainer, who probed and stretched her knee, then sprayed and wrapped her right thigh. During a changeover three games later, more tape was applied to the knee.

“Some days it feels OK, and other days it is a problem,” Davenport said. “In the latter stages of the second set, I definitely felt like it was getting worse. I didn’t feel great in the third.”

Limited mobility wasn’t really a problem, however, because Davenport has compensated for that her whole career. She went for a big shot at every opportunity, eager to end points quickly, and often did by swatting a winner.

“I actually felt like I started hitting the ball a little bit better because I felt like I needed to do more with it,” Davenport said.

She had help: Voracova double-faulted to fall behind 5-3 in the final set. Davenport lost the first point of the next game, then ripped an ace, a service winner, another ace and another service winner for the victory. She looked to the sky in relief and limped off the court, but an hour later she sounded optimistic about her chance of moving deep into the draw.

Seeded only 25th, Davenport proudly noted she hasn’t lost before the quarterfinals at Wimbledon since 1997.

“I’ve had some of my greatest memories here,” she said. “What started off as a Grand Slam that I probably liked the least definitely turned into one I liked the most in the latter part of my career.”

She’s still a youngster compared to 36-year-old Jonas Bjorkman, whose 15th Wimbledon ended with a four-set defeat against Arnaud Clement. Bjorkman plans to retire in October.

Another veteran, No. 4-seeded Nikolay Davydenko, lost to Benjamin Becker 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, but it was hardly an upset. The opening-round defeat was Davydenko’s fifth at Wimbledon in seven years.

Afterward the Russian again addressed an investigation into heavy wagering on a match he lost last August at an obscure tournament in Poland. He has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

“Nobody can prove anything,” Davydenko said. “I think there’s no match-fixing in tennis.”

Nadal began his bid to end Federer’s five-year reign by beating qualifier Andreas Beck 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (0). Nadal, runner-up to Federer the past two years, is coming off his fourth consecutive French Open championship and a win at Queen’s for his first grass-court title.

Three U.S. males reached the second round: Roddick, James Blake and Jesse Levine, who beat fellow American Donald Young. Mardy Fish of the United States lost to No. 8-seeded Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Roddick never faced a break point and defeated Eduardo Schwank 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (0). He then weighed in on this week’s fashion buzz, which started with the cardigan Federer wore Monday onto Centre Court.

“I personally don’t care,” Roddick said. “But any attention drawn to tennis for whatever reason is good. If that means wearing the Mr. Rogers sweater, whatever else you got, then so be it. I don’t know if it would be a good look for me or any of my friends. Or relatives.”

Sharapova wore a belted tuxedo warmup jacket onto Court 1, along with a sheer bib-style blouse and ” for the first time at a Grand Slam event ” shorts. Of secondary interest: She beat qualifier Stephanie Foretz 6-1, 6-4.

“To be able to perform in that, with it being so thin, so mobile, it’s really cool,” Sharapova said.

The day’s most exciting tennis may have occurred in the first set played on Centre Court. The normally serene atmosphere became lively when four-time champion Williams fell behind 2-0 and 3-1 against Naomi Cavaday, an Englishwoman who needed a wild card to make the draw.

Sensing a possible upset, the partisan crowd began cheering shots by the Brit even before points ended. The applause proved premature as Williams rallied to win 7-6 (5), 6-1.

Along with avoiding an embarrassing loss, Williams managed to dodge a bee that bothered her in the opening game.

“I was about to serve. I felt something on my leg. I looked down. It was a bee, a big old bumblebee,” Williams said. “I was trying to get it off without getting stung. You know how they usually fly back at you. Then I ended up losing that service game, so I guess the bumblebee got me off to a bad start.”