Venus Williams falls to Alison Van Uytvanck in US Open first-round match after missing last year’s event

NEW YORK — Venus Williams was eliminated in the first round of her return to the US Open.

Williams lost 6-1, 7-6 (5) to Alison van Uytvanck of Belgium on Tuesday afternoon at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where younger sister serena won the night before.

Venus, who turned 42 in June, has not commented on her future in tennis, unlike her younger sister. Asked after Tuesday’s game if she plans to “evolve away” from tennis like Serena, Venus replied that she was only focused on the doubles competition.

The Williams sisters are set to team up in doubles, reuniting this week for the first time since 2018. She was drawn to face the Czech couple Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova in the first round.

“It was Serena’s idea,” Venus said of playing doubles together at the US Open. “She’s the boss. I’ll do as she tells me.”

This was the 23rd trip to Flushing Meadows for Venus, who made it to the finals as a teenager in 1997 and then won the trophy in 2000 and 2001, and her record 91 appearances in a major tournament.

“She means so much to women’s tennis. Tennis in general,” said Van Uytvanck. “She’s a legend.”

Venus had never lost in the opening round at the US Open until 2020, then she was absent last year. She was completely away from the tour in singles from August 2021 until less than a month ago and is now 0-4 since her return. Her ranking — which was #1 20 years ago — sits at 1,504 this week.

Neither Williams participated in the other’s first round singles match; her mother Oracene and her sister Isha were always in the guest box.

Venus struggled from the start on Tuesday, particularly with her serve and groundstrokes not being properly calibrated, with many netting or landing long.

After many of her 25 unforced errors, Venus would fiddle with her racquet strings or tug on the edge of her visor.

Ten of those miscues came with the backhand, vastly outperforming their two winners on that side.

There were half a dozen double faults, only three aces. She faced 12 break points and lost four of her 10 service games.

Just 20 minutes later, Van Uytvanck, a 28-year-old Belgian who sits 43rd and came into the day with a 1-8 career mark at the US Open, was leading 4-0.

Venus made a small stand, breaking in to open the second set and held for 2-0. But that was her only break in the match and before long Van Uytvanck was repelling a volley winner to end the win.

Van Uytvanck now scores Clara Burelwho eliminated the Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina 6-4, 6-4.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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