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Venus able to extend sister act in Paris

Playing with both wrists heavily taped, oft-injured Venus Williams recovered from a sluggish start to oust wild-card entry Alize Cornet in the first round at the French Open. (JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

PARIS -- As rain delayed the start of what would be Venus Williams's first victory in a Grand Slam match in 11 months, video screens atop Court Philippe Chatrier showed footage from her 2002 French Open final against younger sister Serena.

Ah, how things have changed. Back then, Williams played Williams for the championship at major after major. These days, because of injuries and other issues, it's an accomplishment when both manage to show up.

So Venus Williams simply was happy to be there yesterday at this French Open, and she played that way at times, too. Eventually, she asserted herself enough against French wild-card entry Alize Cornet for a 6-4, 6-3 win that put the Williams siblings in the second round at a major for the first time since 2005.

"The most important thing is that I'm on tour, and as long as I'm on tour, I feel like really good things can happen to me," said Venus, who played only two matches from July 2006 to February 2007 because of a left wrist injury.

Once ranked No. 1, and an owner of five major titles, she is seeded 26th in Paris. Her next opponent is 80th-ranked fellow American Ashley Harkleroad.

Because of showers, only seven of 65 scheduled matches were finished yesterday -- the same number completed Sunday, when 2002 champion Serena won. They haven't entered the same major since the 2006 Australian Open.

Venus's match began three hours late, and rain returned just as she won, interrupting play elsewhere for another hour. Matches resumed for about an hour before play was suspended for the day.

Those left in limbo overnight included top-ranked Roger Federer, leading Michael Russell of the US, 6-4, 4-1, when play was halted, and 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero, down, 4-3, in the first set against Amer Delic of the US.

Fourth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko, a semifinalist at the 2005 French Open and last year's US Open, was the only man who advanced, closing out his 6-3, 6-1, 6-1 win over Stefano Galvani of Italy as showers fell.

The first seeded player to exit the tournament was No. 31 Severine Bremond , a 6-3, 6-3 loser to Michaella Krajicek , the younger sister of 1996 Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek.

Other women's winners: Samantha Stosur , who beat Jamea Jackson, 6-1, 6-2; Li Na ; Tathiana Garbin ; and Harkleroad, who defeated Aleksandra Wozniak, 6-2, 7-6 (7-1).

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