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Williams finds a break in the rain.

Byline: By Jim van Wijk

The opening day of Wimbledon 2004 may have been blighted by rain, but two former champions used the breaks in cloud to shine at SW19.

Third seed Venus Williams ( winner in 2000 and 2001 ( took less than an hour to dispose of Switzerland's Marie-Gayane Mikaelian 6-3 6-0.

And Martina Navratilova left Williams impressed with her showing after she swept aside Colombia's Catalina Castano 6-0 6-1 .

"It takes a while to get back into the swing of singles, especially having been out so long as she has," said Williams. "So obviously she is doing something right.

"Martina is in wonderful shape and understands the game more than ever."

One seed who did not make it through from the matches able to be completed yesterday was 28th-ranked Emilie Loit, of France, who lost 6-1 6-2 to Russian Tatiana Panova.

Her compatriot Vera Zvonareva, the 12th seed, saw off the challenge of Australian Samantha Stosur 6-4 6-4, while Teryn Ashley, of the United States, came from a set down to beat Slovenia's Tina Pisnik 2-6 6-1 7-5.

French Open champion Anastasia Myskina had to wait until almost 6.30pm to get on to Centre Court, but wasted little time in booking her place in the second round with a rapid 7-5 6-1 win over Lubomira Kurhajcova.

The Russian number two seed may only be 22, but she had far too much experience for Wimbledon singles debutant Kurhajcova.

The world number three raced into a 5-2 lead in just 13 minutes and threatened to run away with the opening set before Kurhajcova briefly rallied to level at 5-5.

It proved a false dawn, though, as Myskina confidently broke serve again to close out the opening set and went on swiftly to wrap up the match.

Lindsay Davenport ( winner in 1999 and seeded fifth this year ( beat Madagascan Dally Randriantefy 6-2 6-1.

Number 16 seed Israeli Anna Pistolesi lost 6-4 6-3 to Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia, while Alicia Molik, the 27th seed from Australia, beat Hungarian Melinda Czink 6-1 6-4.

Bulgaria's Magdalena Maleeva, seeded 21, beat Vera Douchevina of Russia 6-1 7-5, and compatriot, 13th seed Maria Sharapova won 6-2 6-1 against Yulia Beygelzimer of the Ukraine.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 22, 2004
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