LONDON, Great Britain - Serena Williams needed little more than an hour to race back into the third round of Wimbledon, knocking out Bulgarian qualifier Viktoriya Tomova, 6-1, 6-4 in her first Centre Court appearance since 2016.
"There's so many things that I want to improve on, but that's kind of how I always feel," she said in her post-match press conference. "I feel like I'm going in the right direction. This match was better than my first round. I just hope every match is better."
Playing at the All England Club for the 18th time in her career, the 23-time Grand Slam champion made quick work of Tomova, a 23-year-old making her Wimbledon main draw debut, after 66 minutes on court.
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After breaking Stefanie Graf's Open Era record of 22 major titles at the 2017 Australian Open, Serena missed four major tournaments as she married and gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Jr.
Back on tour since the BNP Paribas Open, the American aims to equal Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 - 13 of which were captured before the Open Era - and win an eighth Wimbledon title, which would be her third in four years.
"I think I just played better. I served a little more consistent, and still want to work on getting my first serves in more. Overall it's definitely a little bit better than the first round."
Tomova twice dropped serve in the opening set, and though she fell behind a break early in the second, seemed to settle in as the match reached its critical phase, saving a match point to force Williams to serve it out in the following game.
"She played really well. I felt like she should be encouraged, keep going in the direction that she's going. She's obviously going in the right direction."
In all, Serena struck 24 winners to just 16 unforced errors to book a Round of 32 clash with World No.10 Kristina Mladenovic. Mladenovic dispatched Tatjana Maria, who caused one of the first big upsets of the tournament when she upset No.5 seed Elina Svitolina, in straight sets.
"It looks like Mladenovic is going to win," Serena said, referencing the score. "It will be good. I haven't played her in a while. She's had a really good year last year. She's still doing well. I have to come out there and do the best that I can do."