Serena makes thumping start
WIMBLEDON, England (AP):
Serena Williams began the defence of her Wimbledon title with a comfortable first-round win yesterday, relying on an overpowering serve to beat 17-year-old Michelle Larcher de Brito 6-0, 6-4.
Williams won all 27 points on her first serve and hit 15 aces, the last on her final shot. As the crowd applauded her victory, Williams curtsied, mindful Queen Elizabeth II is expected to visit Wimbledon for the first time since 1977, tomorrow.
Williams plays her second-round match that day and has been practising her curtsy.
"I want it to be more natural," she said. "Right now it feels really forced. Seems like I've never done a curtsy before, which may be true. But I'm looking forward to nailing it."
The queen may also get to see top-ranked Rafael Nadal, who advanced by beating Japanese wild card Kei Nishikori 6-2, 6-4, 6-4. It was Nadal's first match at Wimbledon since he became the 2008 champion; he missed last year's tournament because of knee tendinitis.
"For me it was a very special moment to come back to this, probably the nicest Centre Court in the world," Nadal said. "I'm enjoying a lot to be back in my favourite tournament."
Neither French Open women's finalist survived the first round. Runner-up Samantha Stosur, ranked a career-high sixth, lost to qualifier Kaia Kanepi 6-4, 6-4, while winner Francesca Schiavone was beaten on Monday.
"No doubt it's a quick turnaround," Stosur said. "The champions of the game can do it back to back. That's the kind of pedestal that you want to try to look up to and try to get to yourself."
Maria Sharapova, the 2004 Wimbledon champion, needed only 54 minutes to beat lucky loser Anastasia Pivovarova 6-1, 6-0. No. 3-seeded Caroline Wozniacki brushed aside Tathiana Garbin 6-1, 6-1.
Former top-five player James Blake, returning from a three-month lay-off because of a right knee injury, lost to Robin Haase 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.
"The knee is not great," Blake said. "If it doesn't get better soon, I'm not sure how much longer I want to play in pain."
No. 6 Robin Soderling, runner-up at the French Open the past two years, beat American Robby Ginepri 6-2, 6-2, 6-3. No. 18 Sam Querrey of the United States, No. 4 Andy Murray, No. 9 David Ferrer and No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also advanced.
Williams played first on Centre Court and remained unbeaten in opening Grand Slam matches. She's 43-0 in the first round at major events.
"It's not even about the pace, because I could deal with that," Larcher de Brito said. "But she places it so well. When she aims for targets, she really hits that line or just clips that line."
Nadal, who won his fifth French Open title this month, is seeded second at Wimbledon to six-time champion Roger Federer. The two could meet in the final.
Murray defeated Jan Hajek 7-5, 6-1, 6-2; Ferrer beat Nicolas Kiefer 6-4, 6-2, 6-3; and Tsonga downed Robert Kendrick of the US 7-6 (2), 7-6 (8), 3-6, 6-4.
Querrey, who won his first career grass-court title at Queen's this month, advanced when Sergiy Stakhovsky retired because of illness trailing 7-6 (4), 6-3, 2-1.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova was on the receiving end of 16 aces but still beat Akgul Amanmuradova 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-4. No. 7-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Melinda Czink 6-3, 6-3, and No. 10 Flavia Pennetta beat Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-4, 6-0.