WIMBLEDON, England >> Venus Williams began her bid for a record fourth gold medal in Olympic tennis Monday by beating Sara Errani of Italy, 6-3, 6-1.
It was an impressive showing from Williams, who is unseeded and drew a tough first-round foe. Errani has won four titles this year, was the runner-up at the French Open and is ranked a career-high No. 9.
But Williams was in fine form on the Wimbledon grass, where she has won five of her seven Grand Slam titles.
Twenty minutes after Williams won on Court 2, younger sister Serena closed out a second-round victory on Court 1, beating Urszula Radwanska of Poland, 6-2, 6-3. Serena defeated Radwanska’s sister, Agnieszka, in the Wimbledon final this month.
Top-seeded Roger Federer made only a brief appearance on Centre Court, beating Julien Benneteau of France 6-2, 6-2 in less than an hour to reach the third round.
Andy Roddick quickly took to Olympic grass, winning his first-round match over Martin Klizan of Slovakia, 7-5, 6-4.
Venus Williams was diagnosed last year with an autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue, but she nonetheless began 2012 determined to make the Olympics for the fourth time. She won the gold medal in singles at the 2000 Games and teamed with Serena to take the gold in doubles in 2000 and 2008.
Because her opening match was delayed a day by rain, Williams will have to play six consecutive days if she reaches Saturday’s final.
Williams served well against Errani and moved forward aggressively, winning 19 points at the net. When Errani double-faulted on match point, Williams trotted to the net with a grin, then shook her fist with glee as spectators chanted “U-S-A! U-S-A!”
Roddick converted only two of 13 break-point chances but dominated with his serve, as often happens at Wimbledon, where he’s a three-time runner-up.
As a price for being unseeded, he’ll face a daunting challenge in the second round: Novak Djokovic, the 2011 Wimbledon champion.
Top-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus defeated Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania on Centre Court, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.