Venus Williams def Viktoria Kuzmova 63 36 62
She owns seven career Majors, yet Venus Williams hasn’t won a Grand Slam singles title since her 5th Wimbledon win nine years ago. Sjogren’s Syndrome completely altered her arc, a diagnosis that came shortly after her 1st-Round win at the 2011 US Open. Six years later, with grace, dignity and unending competitive spirit, she has re-learned how to eat, how to train, how to listen to her body to achieve the best results. Her determination is paying dividends.
Venus comes into this year’s Open after reaching the Finals of both the Australian Open and Wimbledon, not to mention a Semifinal run here in Flushing last year. She is poised to finally achieve her stubborn vision of – despite the odds – returning to the top of the game. A vision fueled by a simple reality that her love for the sport far outweighs any rare autoimmune diagnosis.
On Day-1 of the 2017 US Open, she was tested. Venus drew Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia, a hard-hitting 19-year-old who reached the Juniors Final last year. Venus comfortably took the first set in 36-minutes, after breaking early to go up 3-1. 36-minutes later, we were even at 1-all. While Venus broke early to go up 2-0 in the second, Kuzmova only allowed the two-time US Open champ one game the rest of the way. As Arthur Ashe Stadium filled for the decider, Venus got to work, giving fans and her own stubborn expectations what they paid for. She shot ahead 3-0 and left Round-1 in the rear-view.