Serena Williams advances; Rafael Nadal loses in Wimbledon’s first round

Written by Max Ehrenfreund

The first round of competition at Wimbledon continued Tuesday. Defending women’s champion and top seed Serena Williams won easily against Mandy Minella, extending her winning streak to 32 matches:

“It was really special coming out as defending champ,” Williams, who won the French Open two weeks ago, told the BBC. “Winning here last year was a great moment for me, but what really stood out was I played the Olympics here last year [winning a gold medal] and that was such a great moment, too. So many great moments on this court.”

Williams was not immediately asked about her little spat with Maria Sharapova, a winner Monday in the first round, and perhaps now it’s truly history. Sharapova said Monday that she hoped to put the issue behind her and move on. Cindy Boren

In the men’s tournament, Rafael Nadal was eliminated Monday after losing to Belgian Steve Darcis. Nadal appeared injured during the match:

Nadal refused to discuss whether he was hurt, saying it was difficult to adapt his game to grass with little time to prepare after winning the French Open two weeks ago.

“It’s not the day to talk about these kinds of things,” he said in a press conference after the match. “I am confident I will be ready for the next tournament. I played much more than what I dreamed … after the injury, so that’s fantastic and a very positive thing for me.”

Even Darcis admitted his upset was stunning. “I think the same,” he joked in a BBC interview. “Nobody was expecting my win today. … Rafael didn’t play his best tennis today and I knew the first match on grass is always difficult. For me it’s a big win. I tried to do what I like to do: come to the net as soon as I can and not play too far from the baseline.”

Darcis did not, he said, try to capitalize on Nadal’s increasing problems with his knee. “If you start to focus on him, it’s tougher. I tried to focus on myself and what I like to do.” Cindy Boren

Nadal was seeded fifth. The fifth seed in the women’s tournament was also upset Monday:

Monica Puig, a Puerto Rican player who trains in Miami and is ranked 65th in the world, stunned Sara Errani, the fifth seed, 6-3 6-2 on Court 18.

Errani was a French Open semifinalist just a few weeks ago and was a French Open finalist last year. Although she saved six match points, she couldn’t stop Puig, who will play Silvia Soler-Espinosa next. Puig had never played a senior Grand Slam tournament before the French Open this year. This is her first grass-court tournament as a pro. Cindy Boren

Tuesday in women’s play, Kimiko Date-Krumm beat Carina Witthoeft in a match remarkable for the players’ ages:

The 42-year-old Date-Krumm is the second-oldest player to have won a match at Wimbledon after Martina Navratilova, who was 47 when she reached the second round in 2004.

The 18-year-old Witthoeft was making her Grand Slam debut, while Date-Krumm’s first appearance in a major tournament dates back to the 1989 French Open. Date-Krumm reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in 1996, a few months after Witthoeft celebrated her first birthday.

“I have a lot of passion,” Date-Krumm said when asked why she was still playing. “I like challenges, because it’s not easy for my age.”

Date-Krumm took a 12-year break from tennis before returning in 2008. She said tennis has changed a lot since she started and not always for the better.

“The young players have so much power,” she said. “But when the ball is coming, they just hit it. They don’t use the whole court. Navratilova, for example, was doing the serve and volley, she was a lefty and was using the backhand slice.

“Steffi Graf had a special backhand slice and a big forehand. (Gabriela) Sabatini used serve and volley even though she liked to stay on the baseline. ... Everybody had a different style. They used many (different) shots. Now, everybody looks the same. Bam, Bam, Bam.” Associated Press

For more on the Americans in the tournament, continue reading here.

 
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