Venus Williams overcame a bad knee and seven foot faults to beat 47th-ranked Vera Dushevina of Russia 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-3 and avoid a first-round exit at the US Open.
The No 3-seeded Williams, a two-time US Open champion, had her left knee bandaged by a trainer after the third game. The American also had plenty of trouble serving, piling up 10 double-faults along with her foot-faults yesterday.
"I had a challenge on my hands on Tuesday. But I wanted to win," said Williams, who made 54 unforced errors. "Each good shot, and each not-so-good shot, I put behind me and looked forward to the next one."
Afterward, Williams wouldn't discuss her knee problem in any detail.
"You could see I had some issues," she said. "I don't really talk about my injuries, historically, and I'm not going to start now."
Asked what it's going to take for her knee to be better for the second round, Williams said: "A lot of prayer. It's going to be a lot of prayer. Everything I can throw at it. But, you know, I'm tough."
Dushevina broke for a 3-1 lead in the second set and was three points from winning at 5-4. But Williams, who has never lost in the U S Open's first round, won the next seven games.
"Next few points," Dushevina said, "she played great."
Up 4-0 in the third set, Williams dropped three games in a row before righting herself once again.