Williams stretched in below-par win
This was not the Serena Williams the tennis world is used to seeing on Centre Court. It was still good enough for the defending Wimbledon champion to advance to the second round in straight sets.
Struggling on serve and failing to dominate against a 148th-ranked Swiss qualifier playing in her first Grand Slam tournament yesterday, Williams laboured to a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Amra Sadikovic – the 80th match win of her Wimbledon career.
What looked on paper like a complete mismatch turned into a tighter contest than expected.
‘‘I never underestimate anyone,’’ said Williams, who had only four aces and served five doublefaults. ‘‘It was a really good match but I don’t think it was tougher than I thought.’’
The six-time Wimbledon champion jumped out to 3-0, running off 13 points in a row, defying her reputation as a slow starter. ‘‘I started fast, that’s about it,’’ Williams said when asked what positives she took from her performance.
The 27-year-old Sadikovic, who decided to retire in 2014 to work at a tennis club in Basel but eventually was talked into returning to the tour, made things tricky for Williams.
She took a 2-1 lead in the second set and stayed even until the final game, when she was broken while serving at 4-5.
Since winning last year’s title, Williams has come up short in the majors, losing in the semifinals at the US Open and finals of the Australian and French Opens. She needs one more Grand Slam championship to equal Steffi Graf’s Open-era record of 22 titles.
On the men’s side, secondseeded Andy Murray followed Williams on Centre Court and cruised to a trouble-free 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win over Liam Broady, a British wildcard entry ranked No 235.
In the first all-British men’s meeting at Wimbledon since 2001 and first at a Grand Slam since 2006, Murray was in command from start to finish.
Murray finished the match just before the first rain delay of the tournament.
Tarps were pulled over all of the outside courts, and the retractable roof on Centre Court was closed for the ensuing women’s match between Svetlana Kuznetsova and Caroline Wozniacki, won by Kuznetsova in straight sets.
Also reaching the second round with straight-set wins were seeded Frenchmen Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
No 7 Gasquet swept past Britain’s Aljaz Bedene 6-3 6-4 6-3 while No 12 Tsonga got past Spain’s Inigo Cervantes 6-4 7-6 (5) 6-4.
Gasquet reached the Wimbledon semifinals last year, while Tsonga made it to the semis in 2011 and 2012.
Fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, who had lost in the first round at the All England Club five times, beat 18-year-old American Taylor Fritz – the youngest player in the men’s draw – 7-6 (4) 6-1 6-7 (2) 6-4.
No 15 Nick Kyrgios kept his cool – and hit another between-thelegs winner – as he beat 37-year-old Radek Stepanek 6-4 6-3 6-7 (9) 6-1.
Serena Williams was far from her best in beating Swiss qualifier Amra Sadikovic in the opening round at Wimbledon yesterday.