Alona Bondarenko

V. Williams out in first round

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Wimbledon champion Venus Williams crashed in the first round of the Australian Open today, losing, 2-6, 6-0, 9-7, to Tszvetana Pironkova.

It was only the third time in 34 Grand Slam tournaments that the five-time major winner has lost in the first round.

The 10th-seeded Williams sprayed 65 unforced errors, including 41 in the third set, as she struggled to control her ground strokes in her first tour-level event since September.

Bulgaria's Pironkova, ranked 94th, was broken when she served for the match in the ninth game of the third set.

Williams, who also had a chance to serve for the match in the 12th game, gave Pironkova match point with...