Venus Williams crashes out of Australian Open

Stanislas Wawrinka kisses the Australian Open trophy after his first grand slam victory.
Stanislas Wawrinka kisses the Australian Open trophy after his first grand slam victory.
Stanislas Wawrinka sits with the Australian Open trophy at the post-final press conference.
Stanislas Wawrinka sits with the Australian Open trophy at the post-final press conference.
Rafa Nadal receives treatment on his injured back during the men's singles final.
Rafa Nadal receives treatment on his injured back during the men's singles final.
Stanislas Wawrinka reaches for a forehand during the men's singles final.
Stanislas Wawrinka reaches for a forehand during the men's singles final.
THIRD TIME LUCKY: Li Na kisses the Daphne Akhurst trophy after defeating Dominika Cibulkova in the Australian Open final.
THIRD TIME LUCKY: Li Na kisses the Daphne Akhurst trophy after defeating Dominika Cibulkova in the Australian Open final.
Runner-up Dominika Cibulkova and champion Li Na during the trophy presentation.
Runner-up Dominika Cibulkova and champion Li Na during the trophy presentation.
Dominika Cibulkova pumps her fist after winning a point in the Australian Open final.
Dominika Cibulkova pumps her fist after winning a point in the Australian Open final.
Li Na stretches for a two-handed volley in the women's final.
Li Na stretches for a two-handed volley in the women's final.
Rafa Nadal crushed Roger Federer in straight sets, and will play Stanislas Wawrinka for his 14th grand slam title in the Australian Open final.
Rafa Nadal crushed Roger Federer in straight sets, and will play Stanislas Wawrinka for his 14th grand slam title in the Australian Open final.
Roger Federer heads to the Australian Open exit.
Roger Federer heads to the Australian Open exit.
Li Na celebrates her semifinal win over Eugenie Bouchard.
Li Na celebrates her semifinal win over Eugenie Bouchard.
Roger Federer reacts after match point against Andy Murray.
Roger Federer reacts after match point against Andy Murray.
Grigor Dimitrov, left, and Rafael Nadal speak at the net after their epic last-eight clash.
Grigor Dimitrov, left, and Rafael Nadal speak at the net after their epic last-eight clash.
Agnieszka Radwanska, left, shakes hands with Victoria Azarenka after their quarterfinal.
Agnieszka Radwanska, left, shakes hands with Victoria Azarenka after their quarterfinal.
Eugenie Bouchard of Canada celebrates defeating Ana Ivanovic in the quarterfinals.
Eugenie Bouchard of Canada celebrates defeating Ana Ivanovic in the quarterfinals.
Li Na in quarterfinal action against Flavia Pennetta.
Li Na in quarterfinal action against Flavia Pennetta.
Roger Federer has won through to the last 16 of the Australian Open in straight sets.
Roger Federer has won through to the last 16 of the Australian Open in straight sets.
Maria Sharapova hits a backhand during her third round match against Alize Cornet.
Maria Sharapova hits a backhand during her third round match against Alize Cornet.
ANDY MURRAY: trailing 5-1 in the third set, Murray wins 23 straight points to close out a straight sets victory over Vincent Millot.
ANDY MURRAY: trailing 5-1 in the third set, Murray wins 23 straight points to close out a straight sets victory over Vincent Millot.
VICTORIA AZARENKA'S: personalised shoes during her match against Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
VICTORIA AZARENKA'S: personalised shoes during her match against Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
'FANATICS':cheer during Nick Kyrgios' match against Benoit Paire.
'FANATICS':cheer during Nick Kyrgios' match against Benoit Paire.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: hits a forehand during his second round match with Leonardo Mayer.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: hits a forehand during his second round match with Leonardo Mayer.
SERENA WILLIAMS: untroubled in the second round match.
SERENA WILLIAMS: untroubled in the second round match.
MARINA ERAKOVIC: hits a forehand during her first round match with Sorana Cirstea.
MARINA ERAKOVIC: hits a forehand during her first round match with Sorana Cirstea.
ANDY MURRAY: had a comprehensive win in his first round match against Japan Go Soeda.
ANDY MURRAY: had a comprehensive win in his first round match against Japan Go Soeda.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Shirt changes likely common at this year's Australian Open.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Shirt changes likely common at this year's Australian Open.
SERENA WILLIAMS: overpowered Ashleigh Barty in the first round.
SERENA WILLIAMS: overpowered Ashleigh Barty in the first round.
SABINE LISICKI: had a straightforward 6-2 6-1 win over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the first round.
SABINE LISICKI: had a straightforward 6-2 6-1 win over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the first round.
MARCOS BAGHDATIS: shows flexibility's important for a pro tennis player.
MARCOS BAGHDATIS: shows flexibility's important for a pro tennis player.
YANINA WICKMAYER: beat Dinah Pfizenmaier in the first round.
YANINA WICKMAYER: beat Dinah Pfizenmaier in the first round.
VENUS WILLIAMS: bowed out early in the first round.
VENUS WILLIAMS: bowed out early in the first round.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: got a first round win over Lukas Lacko.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: got a first round win over Lukas Lacko.
EKATERINA MAKAROVA: celebrates her surprise win over Venus Williams.
EKATERINA MAKAROVA: celebrates her surprise win over Venus Williams.
DAVID FERRER: won through to the second round.
DAVID FERRER: won through to the second round.

A promising start to the season for Venus Williams was undone in two-and-a-half hours on Monday as the 33-year-old crashed out of the Australian Open's opening round with a crushing defeat to her sister Serena's 2012 nemesis Ekaterina Makarova.

Making her 61st grand slam appearance and 14th at Melbourne Park, the American had arrived Down Under with an encouraging run to the final of the Auckland Classic, raising hopes of a fresh start after recent seasons blighted by injury and illness.

On a sunbathed Margaret Court Arena, the former world number one displayed the power and aggression of her halcyon days to roar through the opening set, but it was the uncertain, shaky Venus of recent vintage that ultimately collapsed to a 2-6 6-4 6-4 loss, having taken a 3-0 lead in the third.

Williams, who suffers from Sjogren's Syndrome which causes fatigue and joint pain, was hampered by back problems last year but declined to blame health issues for the loss. She could hardly have done so.

Throwing herself around the court with the enthusiasm of a teenager, her struggles were largely self-inflicted as she gave up a decisive break in the second set with three successive double-faults and suffered another serving meltdown with victory begging in the third.

"I think obviously I think my error count was a little high," Williams told reporters.

"I was hitting the ball well this week, and, you know, obviously it was disappointing to not win the first round.

"I have to give her a lot of credit. She was really determined, and, you know, just kept playing hard. I think any time you're seeded you just really want to win the first round."

Makarova, who stunned an injured Serena Williams in the fourth round of the 2012 Australian Open, made a second successive quarter-final appearance at Melbourne Park last year, but largely had her opponent to thank on Monday for her progress to a second round match with American Irina Falconi.

"I think it will be tough. She's 33 now," said 25-year-old Makarova of Williams's hopes of becoming a force again at grand slams.

"Sometimes when you are pushing her on her serve, she is making some double faults.

"Still when she's in good form, it's really tough to play against her."

Williams will team up with her sister Serena to bid for a fifth doubles title at Melbourne Park, and could well have another piece of silverware to fit into a crammed trophy cabinet, but her appearances in grand slam singles draws have become fleeting.

Thrashed in straight sets by Maria Sharapova in the third round at Melbourne Park last year, she was dumped from the first round of the French Open and the second at the U.S. Open after pulling out of Wimbledon with a bad back.

Asked whether she felt she could close the gap to her best tennis, Williams was also doubtful.

"I don't know. That's difficult to say, because I do play points really well, and then sometimes I don't put them together as well.

"I feel like I have to be patient with myself, because I really haven't had a chance to play that consistently.

"So I think I just have to be patient and keep going and just wait for it to keep coming together more and more."

Reuters