Chris Lehourites

PARIS: Six major champions made their way through the first round of the French Open on Sunday’s opening day. One didn’t: Andy Roddick.

Venus Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, recovered from a slow start to beat 19-year-old Paula Ormaechea of Argentina 4-6, 6-1, 6-3. It was her first match at a major tournament since revealing she had been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.

The 31-year-old Williams, a former top-ranked player who is now No. 53, is 12-4 this season. She pulled out of the U.S. Open last August before her second-round match, saying she had Sjogren’s syndrome, a condition that can cause fatigue and joint pain. She returned to the tour in March.

Early in the day, Sam Stosur and Svetlana Kuznetsova were first up on the main two courts, and both won in straight sets. Juan Carlos Ferrero and Juan Martin del Potro soon followed on the same courts, and with similar results. And 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic then made it 5 for 5.

“It’s a bit of an early start, but always nice to get through it now,” said Stosur, the U.S. Open champion who beat Elena Baltacha of Britain 6-4, 6-0. “You have the whole day and whatever else to recover and, yeah, enjoy.”

Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, lost to 88th-ranked Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, exiting in the opening round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since 2007. The 26th-seeded Roddick is 7-10 this season, 0-4 on clay.

“I move just horrendously out here. My first step is just so bad on this stuff,” Roddick said. “I feel like I’m always shuffling or hopping or not stopping or something. So my footwork on this stuff now is just really bad.”

None of the top three men played on Day 1. Top-ranked Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will be on court Monday, while Rafael Nadal is slated to begin his attempt for a record-breaking seventh French Open title on Tuesday.

The ninth-seeded Del Potro made his way into the second round despite some problems with his left knee, beating Albert Montanes 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-1.

The 2009 U.S. Open champion played with tape on his knee early in the match. Del Potro then added a wrap after a massage from a trainer following the second set.

“It’s a problem when you can’t find your balance like you’re used to, but I’ll use these few days of rest to get better,” Del Potro said. “If I go on the court, it’s because I feel good. I want to continue playing.”

Del Potro reached the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2009, but lost to eventual champion Federer in five sets.