Canada's Rebecca Marino defeats Venus Williams in 1st round of Citi Open
Toronto native triumphs in 3 sets in Williams' 1st singles match in nearly a year
Venus Williams lost to Canadian Rebecca Marino on Monday in her return to singles play after nearly a year away, a defeat the seven-time Grand Slam champion chalked up to being rusty.
"I didn't think I played well a lot of the time," Williams said. "Just trying to shake off some rust. That's just to be expected. All I can do is just play another tournament and play better."
Before the hard-court tune-up for the U.S. Open, Williams last played singles in Chicago on Aug. 23, 2021, when she lost to Su-Wei Hseih. Williams played mixed doubles with Jamie Murray at Wimbledon.
WATCH | Marino takes down Williams:
Williams practiced with sister and former doubles partner Serena leading up to the tournament, which is not routine for them.
"I think it was a real thrill for the crowd to see us hit together," Venus said. "I think more than anything, it was just very exciting for the tournament."
The 31-year-old Marino will advance to Wednesday's Round of 16.
An ace to close out a steely performance 💪<br><br>Rebecca Marino comes back to defeat Venus Williams 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 and move on to Round 2️⃣<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CitiOpen?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CitiOpen</a> <a href="https://t.co/a90TUabmxH">pic.twitter.com/a90TUabmxH</a>—@CitiOpen
In other action on the women's side, top-seeded Jessica Pegula and former top-ranked Simona Halep advanced.
Pegula beat fellow American Hailey Baptiste 6-2, 6-2. Halep defeated Cristina Bucsa of Spain 6-3, 7-5 after adjusting to a different surface following grass-court season.
"I had a good run in Wimbledon, so it's always tough to start," Halep said. "But I'm really happy I won the match and I can play another match here."
On the men's side, former No. 1 Andy Murray lost his opening match 7-6(8), 4-6, 6-1 to Swede Mikael Ymer. Murray started cramping at the end of the first set and struggled to recover.
"It was disappointing, obviously," Murray said." I thought there was some good tennis in the first set. After that, both of us were struggling a bit physically. The level of the tennis was not great."
Countryman Kyle Edmund defeated qualifier Yosuke Watanuki 6-4, 7-6(8) to win his first ATP Tour-level singles match since October 2020.
During his rehab, Edmund pictured himself back on the court in moments like this.
"There was long periods where I was just out, couldn't play, didn't pick a racket up... It just wasn't fun at all," he said. "These sort of matches or these events are something you imagine when you're out."