Back in her comfort zone on Wimbledons Centre Court,Serena Williams delivered a statement that no one can argue with: When her powerful serve is clicking,shes still the woman to beat at the All England Club.
Putting aside her recent comments that led to a couple of apologies and a brief spat with Maria Sharapova,Williams looked every bit the five-time champion as she began her Wimbledon title defense with a routine 6-1,6-3 victory over Mandy Minella of Luxembourg.
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic also opened his campaign with a straight-sets victory,beating Florian Mayer of Germany 6-3,7-5,6-4. Mayer is a two-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist (losing to Djokovic at that stage last year) but never looked like causing another major upset a day after Rafael Nadals stunning first-round exit.
Djokovic took a 3-0 lead in the first set and broke for a 6-5 lead in the second to take firm control. He served out the match to love before saluting the Centre Court crowd with a fist pump.
For Williams,this was a chance to put the focus firmly back on tennis following the recent verbal jousting with Sharapova over their private lives,and comments about a high-profile rape case that she had to apologise for,and the American took full advantage. As usual on grass,the top-ranked Williams dominated with her hard serve,winning the first set without dropping a single point on her service game. Her main weapon let her down only at the start of the second set,when Minella was able to take a 2-0 lead when Williams double-faulted on break point.
She was one point from going down 3-0 but then won 15 of the next 18 points to take a 4-2 lead,and broke again to wrap up the win. Much of the pre-tournament talk was about Williams and Sharapova,the two top players in the game who are on opposite sides of the draw and cant meet before the final.
Also 42-year-old Japanese Kimiko Date-Krumm had an even easier time getting past an opponent,German teenager Carina Witthoeft,less than half her age,6-0,6-2 in just 44 minutes.
Date-Krumm is the second oldest player to have won a match at Wimbledon after Martina Navratilova,who was 47 when she reached the second round in 2004. Li Na of China also cruised into the second round,beating Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands 6-1,6-1.
Juan Martin Del Potro made a winning return to Grand Slam competition on Tuesday,defeating Albert Ramos of Spain 6-2,7-5,6-1. No. 12 Kei Nishikori of Japan and No. 13 Tommy Haas of Germany both won in straight sets,but 16th-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany wasted a two-set lead against Ivan Dodig of Croatia and then had to retire in the fifth,saying he had a bout of flu.
Divij Sharan and Purav Raja frittered away a two-set lead to spoil their Grand Slam debut,losing their men’s doubles opener 7-6 (4) 6-2 3-6 4-6 4-6 to American Nicholas Monroe and Simon Stadler of Germany.