Davenport overcomes ailing leg to advance at Wimbledon

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

WIMBLEDON, England -- With Wimbledon devolving into a fashion contest, former champion Lindsay Davenport's retro getup may have trumped all other outfits.

Her sleeveless white top and pleated skirt were very 1980s, and the wrap on her right leg -- with bandages extending from mid-thigh to mid-calf -- looked like something out of the British Museum.

Playing her first match at Wimbledon since 2005, Davenport whacked enough winners to compensate for a sore knee Tuesday, and she hobbled past Renata Voracova 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.

Moving more comfortably into the second round were Maria Sharapova and her new all-white, tuxedo-style outfit, which prompted 13 fashion-related questions at her postmatch news conference. Other winners in straight sets included defending champion Venus Williams, Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick on a second successive mild, dry day at the All England Club.

While photographers focused on Sharapova's ensemble, and Roddick poked fun at Roger Federer's opening-day sweater, Davenport resorted to tactics that had her winning ugly. Back on the women's tour after a hiatus to have her first child, the 1999 Wimbledon champion showed she still possesses the grass-court game to beat anyone -- even on one leg.

"I wouldn't come here if I didn't think I would do really well," Davenport said.

Idle for two months after sitting out the clay-court season, Davenport feared rust would be a problem in the opening round. But she was troubled more by a sore knee that has bothered her in recent weeks.

Playing on Court 2 -- the "Graveyard of Champions" -- Davenport held a match point in the 10th game of the second set, but failed to convert it.

Before the final set began, she required treatment from a trainer, who probed and stretched her knee, then sprayed and wrapped her right thigh. During a changeover three games later, more tape was applied to the knee.

"Some days it feels OK, and other days it is a problem," Davenport said. "In the latter stages of the second set, I definitely felt like it was getting worse. I didn't feel great in the third."

Limited mobility wasn't really a problem, however, because Davenport has compensated for that her whole career. She went for a big shot at every opportunity, eager to end points quickly, and often did by swatting a winner.

"I actually felt like I started hitting the ball a little bit better because I felt like I needed to do more with it," Davenport said.

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