Venus, Ostapenko make winning starts in Australia

Ageless Venus Williams opened her 2021 season with a 6-1, 6-3 thrashing of Arantxa Rus on Sunday, while former top 10 players Jelena Ostapenko and Caroline Garcia also scored wins.

Williams, 40, showed few signs of having spent 14 days in quarantine in her first-round romp at the Yarra Valley Classic, grinding down her Dutch opponent in 65 minutes — an amazing 27 years after making her professional debut.

The tournament is one of two WTA events being played concurrently at Melbourne Park as players prepare for the Australian Open Grand Slam starting on February 8.

Former Australian Open semifinalist Danielle Collins needed 75 minutes to secure her first victory of the year, a 6-3, 6-3 triumph over Belgian Ysaline Bonaventure in the same event.

India’s Ankita Raina crashed out in the first round, losing to Spain’s Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov 6-3, 6-0. In a battle between former top five players, Ostapenko triumphed over Sara Errani 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the first round of the Gippsland Trophy.

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