Australian Open: Venus Williams vows to play on despite Melbourne exit
Last Updated: 13/01/14 8:11am
Venus Williams: Suffered a first-round loss to Ekaterina Makarova
Venus Williams has dismissed talk of retirement despite her worst performance at the Australian Open in eight years.
The seven-time Grand Slam champion fell at the first hurdle at Melbourne Park after a 2-6 6-4 6-4 loss to 22nd seed Ekaterina Makarova.
It is the first time Williams has failed to make it past the first round in the opening grand slam of the season since 2006 - and it is the latest sign the American's power is on the slide.
The 33-year-old hasn't won a title since Luxembourg in October 2012, while her last Grand Slam success came at Wimbledon in 2008.
However Williams, who was diagnosed with the debilitating auto-immune disease Sjogren's Syndrome in 2011, said: "I love Australia. I'd love to come back.
"The last 12 months I have had issues, but this year I definitely am looking forward to having a good run and feeling well.
"I think for me I just have to keep playing tournaments."
Makarova's victory underlined the strength of the seeds on the opening day in Melbourne.
Li Na, Ana Ivanovic, Samantha Stosur, Eugenie Bouchard and Flavia Pennetta were all straight-sets winners.
Ana Ivanovic beat Kiki Bertens in her opening round
Fourth seed Na beat Ana Konjuh 6-2 6-0, 14th-ranked Ivanovic brushed aside Kiki Bertens 6-4 6-4 and home favourite Stosur, the 17th seed, saw off Klara Zakopalova 6-3 6-4.
Rising star Bouchard, seeded No 30, powered past Tang Haochen 7-5 6-1 and 28th seed Pennetta was too strong for Alexandra Cadantu as she registered a 6-0 6-2 victory.
Ninth seeded Angelique Kerber survived a second-set wobble to beat Jarmila Gajdosova 6-3 0-6 6-2.
However there was an upset in the first round as Sara Errani, the seventh seed, lost 6-3 6-2 to Julia Goerges.
Madison Keys came through a marathon encounter to beat Patricia Mayr-Achleitner 6-2 6-7 (10-8) 9-7, Belinda Bencic outlasted Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-4 4-6 6-3.
Annika Beck, Virginie Razzano, Lucie Hradecka, Casey Dellacqua, Alla Kudryavtseva, Monica Puig, Mona Barthel, Irina Falconi and Karolina Pliskova were among the winners on the opening day.