Venus Williams leaves the Citi Open after a two-and-a-half-hour opening match; Simona Halep wins

Venus Williams‘ return to the circuit came to an end on Monday at the Citi Open as she was defeated by Rebecca Marino in the first round. In an hour and 52 minutes, the Canadian qualifier defeated the former world no. 1 after falling behind a set, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Williams, 41, had not competed since the Chicago Open, which took place in the latter week of August 2021. Despite the obvious lack of match practice, she fared well to take the first set of the match.

But as the game went on, she was unable to maintain her flow. Williams only managed to win 11% of the second-serve points she attempted in the second set, but she managed to win 29% in the third. Williams‘ second serves severely let down the seven-time Major champion even though Marino and she were nearly evenly matched in the last set in terms of points won off first serves (Marino won 81 percent to Williams‘ 85 percent).

Marino’s opponent in the second round will either be eighth-seeded Clara Tauson or Andrea Petkovic.

Citi Open: A mixed day for seeds

A few players who were seeded in the tournament lost in the first round. Elise Mertens, the fifth seed, was defeated by Liudmila Samsonova in the round of 32.

Samsonova defeated Tomljanovic or Sloane Stephens in two hours and four minutes, winning 7-6(4), 6-4. In their opening round, Donna Vekic defeated seventh-seeded Mayar Sherif 6-4, 6-1, in 75 minutes. In the second round, the Croatian will face either Tatjana Maria or qualifier Xinyu Wang.

Kaia Kanepi, the sixth seed, defeated Greet Minnen 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the round of 16. Next, the Estonian will portray Lin Zhu. In their opening match, the Chinese defeated British player Heather Dart 6-4, 6-3. Daria Saville defeated Swedish qualifier Mirjam Bjorklund by scores of 3-6, 7-5, and 7-6(4).

For a chance to advance to the quarterfinals, the Australian will face first seed Jessica Pegula, who is also defending her championship this week. In an American derby, the American defeated wildcard Hailey Baptiste 6-2, 6-2. Simona Halep, the third seed, also advanced to the Citi Open second round.

Cristina Bucsa, a Spanish qualifier, was defeated by the former world number one, 6-3, 7-5, and she will now play either Madison Brengle or Anna Kalinskaya. Image Source: Citi Open Twitter