Federer, Henin through

New York, August 28:

Venus and Serena Williams marked the 50th anniversary celebrations of Althea Gibson’s first US National Championship title for a black tennis player with fitting victories on Monday.

Venus Williams beat Kira Nagy of Hungary 6-2, 6-1 in the first round of the US Open — and hit a Grand Slam-record 129 mph serve in the process. Serena got past German Angelique Kerber 6-3, 7-5.

Gibson was the first black man or woman to enter (in 1950) and to win (in 1957) Wimbledon and the tournament that’s now called the US Open. In 1999, Serena became the first black woman since Gibson to win the US Open. The next year, Venus became the first black woman since Gibson to win Wimbledon.

It also was a good day for the top seeds. Roger Federer and Justine Henin advanced in straight sets, as did No 4 Nikolay Davydenko. Federer, seeking to become the first man since Bill Tilden in the 1920s to win four straight titles in the US championship, beat Scoville Jenkins 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. Henin defeated Germany’s Julia Goerges 6-0, 6-3.

Among the seeded men to advance were Tomas Berdych, Tommy Haas, Richard Gasquet, Guillermo Canas, and Andy Murray. The seeded losers were former finalist and world No 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, who lost to fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, Marcos Baghdatis to Max Mirnyi of Belarus 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (6), Paul-Henri Mathieu to Fernando Verdasco of Spain 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, and Jarkko Nieminen to John Isner of the US 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4) 7-6 (5), 6-4.

Among the three seeded women to bow out were Tatiana Golovin, Mara Santangelo and Samantha Stosur. But among those advancing were Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli and 2006 semi-finalist and third-seeded Jelena Jankovic.