Tennis | Wimbledon: Serena Williams cruises; Djokovic also advances
Serena Williams returns a shot against Mandy Minella.
LONDON — Back in her comfort zone on Wimbledon's Centre Court, Serena Williams delivered a statement today that few can argue with: When her powerful serve is clicking, she's still the woman to beat at the All England Club.
Putting aside her recent comments that led to 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.
Williams put the focus firmly back on tennis following the recent verbal jousting with Sharapova about their private lives and comments about a high-profile rape case in Steubenville, Ohio.
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 serve 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 trailing 3-0 but won 15 of the next 18 points to take a 4-2 lead, and broke again to wrap up the win.
"For me, it's the greatest moment for a tennis player, to walk out on Centre Court," Williams said after her first match at Wimbledon since winning Olympic gold here last year. "That was such a great moment, too. So many great memories on this court."
Williams improved her career record to 68-8 at the All England Club and extended her career-best winning streak to 32 matches, which included her second French Open title.
"I don't think about it," Williams said about her streak. "Every single time I step out on the court it's a new match."
In men's play, top-seeded Novak Djokovic eased into the second round with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 win over Florian Mayer of Germany.
Bidding to win his second title at the All England Club, Djokovic was playing his first match of the year on grass after losing in the semifinals at the French Open. He managed the switch from clay perfectly and controlled most of the match, saving the three break points he faced.
Djokovic won his only Wimbledon title two years ago.