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WIMBLEDON, England - As Venus Williams struggled with her strokes Tuesday against a feisty opponent hoping to spring a significant surprise in her very first Wimbledon match, a voice kept calling out from the third row - coaching, cajoling, cheerleading.
The words of encouragement after nearly every point came from Williams' doubles partner, practice cohort and younger sister, Serena - and they worked. Williams lost the first set, was down a break in each of the others and finally was two points from defeat before climbing all the way back to beat Alla Kudryavtseva 2-6, 6-3, 7-5.
''It's so important to have that support, because I wanted definitely to play better and I was disappointed that I wasn't playing well,'' said the elder Williams.
Still, it was one of few bright spots for the U.S. contingent at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament:. U.S. men went 2-7 on Tuesday, the women 2-4.
Through two days of play, only three of 14 American men are left: No. 3 Andy Roddick, No. 9 James Blake (who beat Igor Andreev of Russia 6-3, 6-4, 6-4) and unseeded Amer Delic (who beat Lukas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4).
At least that's an improvement from the last Grand Slam tournament, where U.S. men went 0-9.
''We had everything go wrong at the French Open,'' Blake said. ''I just hope that doesn't happen again for a long time, especially as long as I'm playing.''
Of 11 U.S. women at Wimbledon, nine have played, and four reached the second round, led by the Williams sisters. The No. 7-seeded Serena plays Alicia Molik of Australia today for a spot in the third round.
Maria Sharapova, the 2004 Wimbledon champion, won her first-round match Tuesday, as did defending champion Amelie Mauresmo and No. 3 Jelena Jankovic. Among the men, three-time French Open champion and 2006 Wimbledon runner-up Rafael Nadal won, as did 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt, two-time Grand Slam winner Marat Safin and No. 4 Novak Djokovic.
Men's Seeded Winners: No. 2 Rafael Nadal, No. 4 Novak Djokovic, No. 6 Nikolay Davydenko, No. 7 Tomas Berdych, No. 9 James Blake, No. 10 Marcos Baghdatis, No. 11 Tommy Robredo, No. 12 Richard Gasquet, No. 14 Mikhail Youzhny, No. 15 Ivan Ljubicic, No. 16 Lleyton Hewitt, No. 18 Jarkko Nieminen, No. 19 Jonas Bjorkman, No. 20 Juan Carlos Ferrero, No. 21 Dmitry Tursunov, No. 22 Guillermo Canas, No. 23 David Nalbandian, No. 24 Juan Ignacio Chela, No. 26 Marat Safin, No. 28 Robin Soderling, No. 29 Agustin Calleri.
Men's Seeded Losers: No. 25 Carlos Moya, No. 30 Filippo Volandri, No. 31 Dominik Hrbaty, No. 32 Juan Monaco.
Women's Seeded Winners: No. 2 Maria Sharapova, No. 3 Jelena Jankovic, No. 4 Amelie Mauresmo, No. 5 Svetlana Kuznetsova, No. 8 Anna Chakvetadze, No. 10 Daniela Hantuchova, No. 11 Nadia Petrova, No. 19 Katarina Srebotnik, No. 23 Venus Williams, No. 26 Ai Sugiyama, No. 27 Samantha Stosur, No. 31 Michaella Krajicek.
Women's Seeded Losers: No. 30 Olga Poutchkova.