1. Archive


Published Jun. 27, 2012

Times wires

WIMBLEDON, England - On one point Tuesday at Wimbledon, Serena Williams dumped a forehand into the net and dropped to a knee, her jaw clenched as she shrieked.

On another, she pushed a backhand into the net while her feet gave way, leaving her awkwardly splayed at Court 2, the same place where her sister Venus lost Monday.

By the end, the younger Williams was screaming after nearly every point, good or bad - and there were plenty of both. Her 6-2, 6-4 victory over the 62nd-ranked Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the first round at the All England Club wasn't perfect or pretty.

"Definitely a little relief," the sixth-seeded Williams said. "I was letting out a lot of cries. I was happy to get through that."

Yes, Williams got the job done, something she couldn't say the last time she was at a major championship. Last month at the French Open, the 30-year-old American suffered her only first-round exit in 48 Grand Slam tournaments.

"I learned that you got to ... keep going," Williams said about that stunning defeat. "Obviously, I was extremely disappointed. But as Kelly Clarkson says, 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.'"

Williams now is 13-0 in Wimbledon openers.

Last year, Williams questioned why tournament organizers assigned her and Venus to play on Court 2 rather than the larger and more prestigious Centre Court or Court 1. They have won a total of nine singles championships at Wimbledon.

Given that Venus lost in straight sets on Court 2 Monday, and Serena went through a workout to win there Tuesday, the issue came up.

"I can't even talk about it. I'm over it," Williams said, raising her left palm. "I just can't talk about that right now. I'm not in the mood."

Some other top players were sluggish at the start against unheralded foes Tuesday, when action was cut short in the evening because of rain.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal trailed 4-0 against 80th-ranked Thomas Bellucci but won 7-6 (7-0), 6-2, 6-3.

"Fantastic for me," Nadal said, "but I have to improve a lot."

Defending women's champion Petra Kvitova fell behind 3-0 and 4-1 but used a seven-game run to take control and beat 96th-ranked Akgul Amanmuradova 6-4, 6-4.

"In the beginning," Kvitova said, "I think I was nervous."

Twelve singles matches were suspended in progress and four were postponed altogether. Among those that began but didn't finish, Andy Roddick led wild-card entry Jamie Baker by a set and a break.

Winners included 10th-seeded Mardy Fish, playing his first match since having a heart procedure a month ago. Fish hit 24 aces and defeated Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo 7-6 (7-3), 7-5, 7-6 (7-1). He didn't attend a postmatch news conference; a tour spokesman said Fish wasn't feeling well but didn't elaborate.

All three Australian men in action Tuesday exited, meaning none reached the second round at the All England Club for the first time since 1938. No. 20 Bernard Tomic, was knocked out by David Goffin; 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt lost to No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga; and Matthew Ebden lost to Benoit Paire.

"The boys didn't have the best day," Hewitt said.

New start date? Wimbledon is considering a calendar change that would have the tournament begin three weeks after the French Open instead of two, and top players like the idea of more time between the two Grand Slam events. The earliest the change could take place is 2014.

fast facts

Top matches today

Men - Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Ryan Harrison; Roger Federer (3) vs. Fabio Fognini; Janko Tipsarevic (8) vs. Ryan Sweeting; Gilles Simon (13) vs. Xavier Malisse; Andy Roddick (30) vs. Jamie Baker, completion of suspended match

Women - Maria Sharapova (1) vs. Tsvetana Pironkova; Agnieszka Radwanska (3) vs. Elena Vesnina; Sam Stosur (5) vs. Arantxa Rus; Caroline Wozniacki (7) vs. Tamira Paszek, completion of suspended match; Andrea Hlavackova vs. Kim Clijsters

TV: 7 a.m., ESPN2