Reporting from New York — It is a question that makes Venus Williams weary.
Her eyes drop, her shoulders tighten. She is here at the U.S. Open, which begins Monday, a 30-year-old with the major accomplishment of having won seven Grand Slam tournaments, and she does not want to talk about the starkness of this bit of information:
Williams is the only American woman among the 32 seeded players.
Melanie Oudin, the bubbly teenager who giggled as she ran through the 2009 U.S. Open, shoving aside higher-ranked, harder-hitting players with no evidence of nerves until she was halted in the quarterfinals by eventual runner-up Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, has won only a single match at the three previous major tournaments this year and comes to the Open unseeded, with a ranking of 43 and a dangerous first-round match at 8 a.m. PDT Monday against a tricky veteran, Olga Savchuk.