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Venus and Serena Williams win first- round matches at the US Open

Tennis star Serena Williams kept picking at that pesky pink bow, then pulled it completely off the front of her black dress

On a night when so much had gone right, she wasn't about to let any wardrobe malfunction stop her Monday at the U.S. Open.

With Janet Jackson in the stands for a tribute to Althea Gibson, the Williams sisters honored the trailblazer in their own way - with wins.

"My outfit was dark, and I definitely played a dark match," Serena said.

Aretha Franklin got the evening off to a rollicking start, belting out "Respect." Then Venus Williams beat Kira Nagy of Hungary 6-2, 6-1 - highlighted by a Grand Slam-record 129 mph (203 kph) serve - and Serena finished off a full opening day with a forehand smash to down German teenager Angelique Kerber 6-3, 7-5.

"I know every time I step out on the court I play for me and I play for all the other African-American kids out there who have a dream and might not have the means," Serena said.

Roger Federer and Justine Henin played up to their No. 1 rankings with straight-set victories, and American prospects Donald Young and John Isner played up to their potential.

There were few upsets. Among the seeded players who lost were No. 17 Tatiana Golovin on the women's side and crowd favorite No. 18 Marcos Baghdatis in the men's draw.

Maria Sharapova and Andy Roddick were scheduled to play their first-round matches Tuesday night.

Back in 1957, Gibson became the first black player to win the championship at the U.S National Championship, which became the U.S. Open.

While the main show court on the grounds is revered as Arthur Ashe Stadium, not everyone is aware of Gibson's legacy. Federer candidly admitted he did not know anything about her.

"Nothing, to be honest," the three-time Swiss champion said. "It's before my time. Isn't much I can really say about it. I don't know, I'm sorry."

The Williams sisters hope to raise that awareness. They narrated a video that opened the ceremony.

"I have all the opportunities today because of people like Althea," Venus Williams said. "Just trying to follow in her footsteps."

But stepping onto the Ashe court after the tribute wasn't easy, especially after wrist and knee problems limited her to one tournament since she won Wimbledon.

"It was definitely a tough act to follow. ... It was really moving," she said.

"It's like, 'OK. Williams can't lose tonight. That's not part of the plan. It's supposed to be an all-American win tonight.' I was definitely thinking that."

Serena won in her first match since injuring her left thumb at Wimbledon.

"I didn't play well at all. It was a crazy match out there," she said.

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