Serena Williams let loose with a river of tears following her first-round win at Wimbledon, but it wasn’t over her sister Venus’ cotton baby-jumper outfit.
The younger Williams sister defeated Aravane Rezai 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, and the tears started flowing over her last 12 months of surgeries, medical emergencies and health scares.
“I usually don’t cry, so I don’t understand it, but it’s just been so hard,” said Williams, who cried into her towel after the match and was misty-eyed throughout her post-match interviews. “I never dreamt I would be here right now.”
The result and ensuing tears were a culmination of emotions after not knowing if she would return to tennis following two operations to repair a torn tendon in her right foot, then additional multiple hospitalizations to recover from blood clots in both lungs and a hematoma, which then required more surgery.
“It’s been a disaster year, but you know I’ve been praying and I have my family and I love tennis, and to be able to come back at Wimbledon is pretty awesome,” Williams said. “I didn’t expect to play. I’m just excited. I never cried with joy for anything.”
Former Wimbledon champ and No. 7 seed Maria Sharapova was also a winner Tuesday. She beat fellow Russian and former Top 5er Anna Chakvetadze, whose ground game is formidable on the grass, but whose puff-ball second serve Sharapova pounded like a locked glass double door prior to the opening of a sale day at Bloomingdales, 6-2, 6-1.
“I played against an opponent that’s been in the Top 10 before,” Sharapova said. “Hasn’t had the best results this year. But you don’t quite know what to expect. I’m sure, you know, she’d come out in the match and have nothing to lose. I thought she played a really good match, and I really had to step it up.”
Virtually the entire Top 10 of the WTA tour were in action Tuesday due to the Monday rains, with No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 3 Li Na, No. 4 Victoria Azarenka, No. 8 Petra Kvitova, and No. 9 Marion Bartoli all straight-set winners joining Serena and Maria.
“I thought it was very difficult,” Wozniacki said. “First, it was my first match on grass, a real match. But then, you know, the wind blowing everywhere, I felt like I was throwing the ball up quite a few times for the serve. But I thought actually I served pretty well. But anyways, the conditions were pretty tough. There was one point where I hit the ball and it almost didn’t come over and then I hit the next one and it just flew.”
The highest-seeded upset victim Tuesday was No. 10 Sam Stosur, upended 6-3, 6-4 by Hungarian Melinda “The Fifth Element” Czink.
Spanish all-courter Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez was also an upset winner over No. 15 seed and former No. 1-ranked Jelena Jankovic 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.
Among other results of note, American Melanie Oudin was brutalized 6-0, 6-1 by No. 18 seed and former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic; No. 25 Daniela Hantuchova bounced back from injury with a win over Russian qualifier Vitalia Diatchenko after dropping the first set; No. 31 Lucie Safarova won the all-Czech all-Lucie battle against Lucie Hradecka after dropping the first; and India’s Sania Mirza crashed out against Virginie Razzano in three.
Matches to look for Wednesday are tough out Kimiko Date-Krumm vs. (23) Venus Williams, an all-Russian in Elena Vesnina vs. (2) Vera Zvonareva, Anabel “Funky Cold” Medina Garrigues vs. (16) Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges, and another all-Russian in (14) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Nadia Petrova.
On the men’s side Tuesday the hubbub centered around John Isner vs. Nicolas Mahut II, a rematch of last year’s 11-hour, three-day contest that set the record for the longest pro match.
The match fittingly began with a first-set tiebreak, with both players picking up where they left off last year. Isner ran away with the opening-set tiebreak, then the match 7-6(4), 6-2, 7-6(6).
“I’m just really thrilled to have won that third set, because if I lose that third set, then chances are we don’t finish,” Isner said. “You know, our match goes to another second day. So obviously you want to be through to the next round. So tomorrow I don’t have anything to do. Just gonna practice and get ready. It’s a nice feeling I don’t have to sleep on finishing this match.”
Another American came through on Tuesday when Andy Roddick, who has yet to claim the Wimbledon crown after being turned back three times in the final by Roger Federer, patiently outlasted the forehand-centric German Andreas Beck 6-4, 7-6(6), 6-3.
“He certainly had an obvious game plan and executed it for most of the day,” Roddick said of Beck. “He wasn’t going to rally much. He was just going to take his shots and go really aggressive and it worked most of the day. Normally when you have that mindset, you can count on someone making errors in bunches. Luckily he made two when he was up in that breaker.”
Other Top 10 winners in their opening-round matches were No. 2 Novak Djokovic beating Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in straights, No. 3 Roger Federer defeating Mikhail Kukushkin in straights, No. 5 Robin Soderling downing German Philipp Petzschner in four, and No. 7 David Ferrer straight-setting France’s Benoit Paire.
“Rafa and Roger are two biggest favorites to win this tournament because of the fact that they’ve been so dominant the last couple years, especially on the grasscourts,” Djokovic said. “They are the only two players who have been winning this tournament for quite some time. Obviously, there is Andy Murray, who is home favorite. He’s playing really well on grasscourts, Wimbledon, last couple years. It’s true there is a different approach to this year’s Wimbledon from my side because I’m playing, I think, best tennis of my life in the last six months.”
Avoiding upsets were No. 18 Mikhail Youzhny edging Juan Monaco 6-4 in the fifth, No. 21 Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco saving a match point to ground Radek “The Worm” Stepanek 9-7 in the fifth, and No. 32 Marcos Baghdatis outlasting James Blake 6-4 in the fifth.
The four seeds that did fall by the wayside Monday were No. 22 Alexandr Dolgopolov beaten in four by Chilean Fernando “Gonzo” Gonzalez, No. 23 Janko Tipsarevic retiring with a groin injury against “Dr.” Ivo Karlovic, Croat Ivan Ljubicic booting fellow Croat and No. 27 seed Marin Cilic in four, and Aussie Bernard Tomic straight-setting No. 29 Nikolay Davydenko.
Unseeded winners of note out of the first round were Xavier “X-Man” Malisse, Brazilian Ricardo Mello “Yello” beating Canadian Frank Dancevic in five, Andreas “Don’t Be a” Haider-Maurer, “Next” American Ryan Harrison, and former All England Club champ Lleyton Hewitt beating Kei Nishikori in four.
Matches to look for Wednesday are (1) Rafael Nadal vs. Ryan Sweeting, Victor Hanescu vs. (8) Andy Roddick, Julien “The United Colors of” Benneteau vs. (6) Tomas Berdych, (24) Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Olivier “The Roach” Rochus, Gilles Muller vs. (31) Milos Raonic, Rainer Schuettler vs. Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez, Dudi “Where’s My Car?” Sela vs. (15) Gilles Simon, and Ernests Gulbis vs. Dmitry Tursunov (to finish).
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
Serena Williams is a perfect 44-0 in Grand Slam first round matches. Like Rafael Nadal, who also has never lost in the first round of a Slam, Serena is on a 15-match winning streak at Wimbledon…Why does Andy Murray always seem to play late in the day on Center Court? Because he’s Andy Murray, that’s why…The Williams family is now 2-2 against Aravane Rezai…John Isner’s rematch win over Nicolas Mahut was nine hour shorter than the epic they played last year…Sam Stosur is on a three-match losing streak at Wimbledon…Anne Keothavong is 0-15 career against Top 20 players…Li Na has won 14 of 15 Grand Slam matches this year….Did you know all of John Isner’s career wins at Wimbledon are over Nicolas Mahut?…Rafael Nadal has lost eight games in five sets against Ryan Sweeting this year…Two players who went five sets Tuesday play again on Wednesday. Good luck to Olivier Rochus and Fernando Verdasco…Serena Williams has now won 200 career Grand Slam matches…Elena Vesnina is 1-12 career against Top 5 players. Wednesday she plays Vera Zvonareva…Kimiko Date-Krumm first played Wimbledon in 1989…Austrian 31-year-old mom Sybille Bammer announced her retirement after losing in the first round at Wimbledon. She won two career singles titles and was a quarterfinalist at the US Open in 2008, in 2007 reaching a career-high No. 19…ESPN’s Chris Evert, cut down on the “I’s” and “me’s” and “my’s,” it’s less about you, more about “The Championships.” And how about Evert and Pam Shriver alone in the booth doing women’s matches, is that a nightmare come true?…Someone needs to write a book about American “Iron” Mike Russell, and USTA junior development director Patrick McEnroe needs to make it required reading for all the soft American kids…Jonathan Scott at Tennis.com LOVES Venus Williams’ sack cloth look: “Venus unveiled an immaculate, flowing one-piece�a jumper, as she called it — replete with gold hot pants in her first-rounder at the All England Club. It may look like something that the dazzling broad Blanche Devereaux would wear, but the romper itself is perhaps fitting for the elder Williams sister, freshly aged 31 as of Friday…This loose, super-short toga all but gives her the appearance of the goddess for whom she is named.”…That was some funny gushing by the pseudo-medi ata Serena Williams’ post-match conference Monday — everything short of running up and hugging her saying ‘We’re so glad you’re back!’ Have the bloggers and British media finally outnumbered the media-media?…Andy Roddick tells of scouting unknown opponents on YouTube…ESPN’s Chris Fowler making fun of Lleyton Hewitt for falling to his knees and getting pumped up after making point against Kei Nishikori? He can’t get pumped? He’s Lleyton “The Lawnmower” Hewitt. Especially when he has been sucking of late. You ever beat Baby Japanese Fed, Fowler?…Between the new injected of egos and characters at ESPN for Wimbledon, Brad Gilbert is coming off as positively level-headed and mild…Good on Chris Evert after being baited by Hannah Storm to bash women’s tennis with the Williams sisters being favorites after Wimbledon after coming off lengthy injuries: “I think it says more about them, the Williams sisters, how good they really are,” Evert said. “They are exceptional athletes.”
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