NEW YORK -- Venus Williams lost in the opening round at the U.S. Open for the first time in her long career.
Williams had been 21-0 previously, but she was beaten by No. 20-seeded Karolina Muchova 6-3, 7-5 on Tuesday night.
It was small consolation to Williams that by appearing in the tournament for the 22nd time, she broke the women's record in the Open era. She had been tied with Martina Navratilova.
Williams' sister, Serena, was among the few spectators for the match. Serena won her opening match earlier in the day.
Karolina Muchova, of the Czech Republic, reacts to winning a point during her match with Venus Williams, of the United States, during the first round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, in New York.(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Venus, 40, was the oldest player in the draw. She fell to 1-7 this year.
Meanwhile, Andy Murray had the sort of match he came back for, the sort of competition and comeback he always lived for, the reason he went through two hip operations and all the hard work that followed.
And it was the type of vintage Murray performance -- undaunted by a deficit, adjusting on the fly, muttering all the way -- that was too compelling not to watch, so while there are no fans allowed into this U.S. Open because of the pandemic, fellow pros made their way into the stands to see the popular 2012 champion save a match point Tuesday and, eventually, win.
Playing his first Grand Slam match in nearly 20 months, toiling on his metal hip for 4 hours, 39 minutes in Arthur Ashe Stadium, Murray put together his 10th career comeback from two sets down and beat Yoshihito Nishioka 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), 6-4.
"It was pretty emotional straight after the match finished, when I got back to the locker room -- sort of look at my phone, see the messages from family and friends, the team and stuff. They're the people that have kind of seen me go through everything, been there, seen the tough times," said Murray, who next plays 15th-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime, a 20-year-old from Canada.
"I don't know how many of us actually believed I'd be back kind of winning matches like that."
And so many of the sport's biggest names were there to witness it.
The Murray match provided the most entertainment in the afternoon of Day 2 at Flushing Meadows, where his lengthy victory was followed in Ashe by Serena Williams' straight-set victory.
"Usually when you're waiting for a match [and] someone is down two sets, you root for the person that's ahead so you can get on the court and get off," said Williams, who defeated Kristie Ahn 7-5, 6-3 for her 102nd match win at the U.S. Open, breaking a tie with Chris Evert for most in the professional era.
"I was rooting for Andy the whole time. I really wanted him to win. Gosh, when he was down in the third set, I was like, 'All right!' I was just rooting for him so hard."
Dominic Thiem, a three-time major runner-up, and Garbine Muguruza, a two-time Grand Slam champion but never in New York, advanced, as did 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic, reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, No. 9 seed Johanna Konta, No. 16 Elise Mertens. Sloane Stephens, the No. 26 seed and 2017 champion, advanced with a straight-set victory over Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania.
A player who can appreciate Murray's journey perhaps as much as anyone is Andrey Kuznetsov, a 29-year-old Russian who missed about 2½ years because of his own hip injury. Kuznetsov eliminated Sam Querrey 6-4, 7-5 (6), 6-2, becoming the first unranked man to win a Grand Slam match since Nicolas Kiefer at Wimbledon in 2007.
Murray is a former No. 1-ranked player whose resume also includes two Wimbledon championships and two Olympic singles gold medals.
But he had surgery on his right hip in January 2018, then again in January 2019, shortly after a first-round loss at the Australian Open. He figured he would need to retire from tennis.
Murray eventually returned to the tour last season. A pelvic problem -- combined with the sport's coronavirus-caused hiatus -- kept him off the tour from last November until this August, when he won twice and lost once at the Western & Southern Open, a tournament played at the U.S. Open site.