WIMBLEDON, England (AP):
On one point yesterday at Wimbledon, Serena Williams dumped a forehand into the net and dropped to a knee, her jaw clenched as she let out a shriek.
On another, she pushed a backhand into the net while her feet gave way, yet again leaving her awkwardly splayed on the grass at Court Two, the same place where her sister Venus lost a day earlier.
By the end, the younger Williams was screaming after nearly every point, good or bad - and, well, there were plenty of both. Her harder-than-the-score-looked 6-2, 6-4 victory over the 62nd-ranked Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic in the first round at the All England Club wasn't exactly perfect or pretty.
' A little relief'
"Definitely a little relief," the sixth-seeded Williams said. "I was letting out a lot of cries. I was happy to get through that."
Some other top players were sluggish at the start against unheralded foes yesterday, when action was cut short in the evening because of rain.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal, for instance, trailed 4-0 against 80th-ranked Thomas Bellucci of Brazil before turning it around and winning 7-6 (0), 6-2, 6-3.
"Fantastic for me," Nadal said, "but I have to improve a lot for the next round."
Defending women's champion Petra Kvitova fell behind 3-0 and 4-1, but eventually used a seven-game run to take control and beat 96th-ranked Akgul Amanmuradova 6-4, 6-4. The match was halted by a 30-minute rain delay in the second set; when they returned, Kvitova needed all of three minutes to wrap things up.
"In the beginning," Kvitova acknowledged, "I think I was nervous."
Twelve singles matches were suspended in progress and four were postponed altogether.