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Maria, Serena Pass First Tests

Two former champions won their first round matches on Day 1 of The Championships.

Published June 22, 2009 06:02

LONDON, UK - Serena Williams was tested late in the match but was able to pass her first test of the Wimbledon fortnight in straight sets, holding off a late surge from qualifier Neuza Silva to reach the second round. Maria Sharapova was also among the winners on Day 1 of The Championships.

Williams, a two-time champion at The Championships and the No.2 seed this year, stormed through the first set against Silva in 27 minutes but things were tighter in the second set as the Portuguese held her first five service games, eventually dropping serve in the last game of the match to send Williams on.

"No one wants to lose in the first round, so everyone you play is always really into it and really fighting," Williams said. "My opponent definitely increased her level in the second set. It's just a point here or there that can break a match, so concentration was important. I thought I could have played better on the key points, but hopefully I'll get there as the tournament progresses."

Williams was even more complimentary of Silva after learning the 26-year-old was playing her first Grand Slam main draw match: "What a wonderful attitude she had out there. I had no idea it was her first one. I thought she played incredibly. She was so calm, especially for her first match on Centre Court."

The other former champion on the bottom half of the main draw, Sharapova - who defeated Williams for the 2004 title - beat another qualifier, Viktoriya Kutuzova of Ukraine, 75 64. Sharapova returned to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour about a month ago after a nine-month shoulder injury lay-off, and has been impressive in the weeks since - quarterfinals at Warsaw and Roland Garros and a semifinal run on the grass courts of Birmingham. Because of her strong history here, she was given the No.24 seed despite her No.60 ranking.

"I played against a really solid opponent who went for many shots and who's aggressive, playing like she didn't have much to lose," Sharapova said. "Her game suits the grass well and she had three good matches in qualifying, so I knew she'd be dangerous. I just hung in there. There's still work to be done, but I always feel pretty comfortable on the grass."

Other seeded winners were No.4 seed Elena Dementieva, No.8 seed Victoria Azarenka, No.10 seed Nadia Petrova, No.12 seed Marion Bartoli, No.14 seed Dominika Cibulkova, No.16 seed Zheng Jie, No.26 seed Virginie Razzano, No.27 seed Alisa Kleybanova, No.28 seed Sorana Cirstea and No.31 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. There were a few minor upsets on Day 1, with No.21 seed Patty Schnyder falling to Ai Sugiyama and No.23 seed Aleksandra Wozniak falling to Francesca Schiavone. Sugiyama is playing her 61st straight Grand Slam main draw, the all-time leader among male and female players; Wozniak and Schiavone both reached semifinals on grass last week, although Wozniak's run came at the Premier-level Eastbourne stop and Schiavone made the final four at the International in 's-Hertogenbosch.

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