The Latest: Venus Williams posts win in 21st Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Latest from the Australian Open on Monday (all times local):

___

12:45 p.m.

Venus Williams has won a Grand Slam match for the first time since 2019.

Playing in her 21st Australian Open, Williams beat Kirsten Flipkens 7-5, 6-2 on the first day of play.

Williams went 0-2 in matches at major tournaments last year. The victory came in her 88th Grand Slam match, a women’s record.

At 40, Williams is the oldest woman in this year’s draw and just the sixth player in her 40s to compete at the Australian Open.

___

12:30 p.m.

Three-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka has won her opening match at the Australian Open.

Osaka, who won the title in Melbourne two years ago, played the first match of the tournament in Rod Laver Arena and beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-2.

The first tournament of this year’s Grand Slam season began after a three-week delay because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Osaka drew a potential tough opening opponent in Pavlyuchenkova, a Russian ranked 39th who reached the quarterfinals in Melbourne three of the past four years. But Osaka breezed through the first set in 21 minutes and barely slowed after that.

___

11 a.m.

Some said it wouldn’t happen amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Some said it shouldn’t happen. Well, the 2021 Australian Open is officially underway.

Naomi Osaka opens play at Rod Laver Arena when she takes on 39th-ranked Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a quarterfinalist three of the past four years in Melbourne.

Serena Williams begins her latest bid for a 24th Grand Slam singles title in the following match against Laura Siegemund. Serena's older sister Venus, a seven-time major champion, is first up at Margaret Court Arena against Kirsten Flipkens.

They are among eight women Grand Slam singles titlists playing on the opening day. Others include two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and 2019 U.S. Open winner Bianca Andreescu. There were six tuneup tournaments crammed into last week, with top-ranked Ash Barty among the winners of the five finals staged on Sunday.

The tournament is beginning three weeks later than scheduled because of coronavirus quarantine requirements for the players. It started under mostly cloudy skies and a temperature of 17 Celsius (63 Fahrenheit)

___

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Bg pattern light

UPGRADE TO PREMIUM

Subscribe to Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy access to over a thousand articles per month, on any device as well as feature-length investigative articles.

Ready to signup?