Five-time champion Venus Williams failed to reach the second round at Wimbledon for the first time in 15 years, losing her opening match to Elena Vesnina.
Defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic advanced to the second round yesterday by overcoming Juan Carlos Ferrero in straight sets, and top-seeded woman Maria Sharapova defeated Anastasia Rodionova. Six-time champion Roger Federer also won.
The 79th-ranked Vesnina beat Williams 6-1, 6-3 on day one of the Grand Slam tennis tournament. The Russian had lost in the first round in nine of her past 10 appearances at the majors.
Williams was unseeded at Wimbledon for the first time since her 1997 debut at the All England Club in London. She’s struggled with Sjogren’s syndrome, an energy-sapping autoimmune disease, since last year. She lost in the French Open second round last month in her first Grand Slam since her diagnosis.
“I’m just a couple of months into getting back on tour,” Williams, a 32-year-old American, told reporters. “Life is challenging, but I’m always up for a challenge. The tour will be around for a few more months this year, and I will just continue to try to improve my game.”
Defending champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic opens Centre Court play today against Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan, before men’s No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal of Spain takes on Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci.
Sharapova of Russia had 23 winners and 14 unforced errors in her 6-2, 6-3 defeat of Rodionova, an Australian.
The 25-year-old Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004 and completed the career Grand Slam this month by winning on the clay courts of the French Open. That performance also returned her to the No. 1 ranking on the women’s tour.
Clay to Grass
“To go out there after not competing for a couple weeks, the transition from clay to grass, I thought I started off the match really well,” Sharapova said.
Former French Open champion Li Na and U.S. Open title holder Sam Stosur advanced with straight-set victories. Third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska beat Magdalena Rybarikova, while eighth-seeded Angelique Kerber defeated Lucie Hradecka.
Four-time Grand Slam title holder Kim Clijsters overcame former top-ranked Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 6-4.
The Belgian, who is playing her last season on the women’s tour, pulled out of the semifinals of a grass-court event in the Netherlands four days ago because of a stomach injury.
“It felt OK,” Clijsters said. “I was starting to feel more and more comfortable as the match went on.”
China’s Li, the No. 11 seed, beat Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-1. Li last year became the first Asian to win a Grand Slam singles title when she won at Roland Garros.
Australia’s Stosur, seeded No. 5, defeated Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-1, 6-3 to reach the second round for the first time since 2009.
Djokovic beat Ferrero 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 on Centre Court. The Serb and 2003 French Open champion Ferrero had split their earlier two matches, with the Spaniard winning when they played on clay. Djokovic, trying to become the first man to retain the Wimbledon title since Federer in 2007, is going for his sixth Grand Slam championship.
Federer lost three games in easing past Spain’s Albert Ramos 6-1, 6-1, 6-1. The Swiss is trying to equal William Renshaw and Pete Sampras’s record of seven men’s singles titles at the All England Club by winning his 17th Grand Slam title.
“I played a very clean match,” Federer, 30, said in a televised interview. “It’s always nice to save energy.”
No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, the 2010 runner-up, lost in three tiebreakers to Ernests Gulbis of Latvia for his first opening-round defeat at Wimbledon since his debut in 2004.
Alejandro Falla of Colombia upset 11th-seeded John Isner 6-4, 6-7 (7-9), 3-6, 7-6 (9-7), 7-5. The American had 31 aces to Fallo’s four and his 76 winners were almost double Fallo’s.
Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic, the eighth seed, beat David Nalbandian, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2. Nalbandian, from Argentina, forfeited the Queen’s Club final when he kicked an advertising sign and injured a line judge.