herald

Saturday 18 August 2018

In-form Sharapova eases into second round

Former champion Maria Sharapova made a fluent start to her Wimbledon campaign with a 6-2 6-1 win over fellow Russian Anna Chakvetadze in the first round yesterday.

The fifth seed and former world number one again showed the form which brought her this year's Italian Open title, fuelling the belief that she can repeat her stunning grass court run of 2004 when she beat Serena Williams in the final aged 17.

Still only 24, Sharapova is enjoying a new lease of life after the shoulder problems that played havoc with her once potent serve and sent her tumbling down the rankings.

While she admits she does not lay awake at night wondering if she will add to her three grand slam titles, she says knowing what it feels like to win at Wimbledon keeps the desire burning.

"Of course it's important," said Sharapova, one of only three women in the draw to have lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish.

"But I'm really happy to be playing something that I love. I don't look ahead and think how amazing it would be to hold the trophy.

"Obviously I'm fortunate to have had that feeling before and knowing how good that feeling is."

Serena Williams was relieved to overcome an emotional first hurdle at Wimbledon -- and now she can concentrate on the defence of her title.



Tears

Williams, playing only her second tournament since recovering from a serious foot injury and blood clots on her lungs, broke down in tears after beating Aravane Rezai 6-3 3-6 6-1.

The American said last week the blood clots had left her "on her deathbed" and she was overcome with emotion when she wrapped up the win.

"For me it wasn't about winning the match, it was about being out there," she said. But Williams is a competitive animal. She refused to be beaten off the court and it is that attitude that has won her 13 grand slam titles.

"I proved to myself that I could do it," said Williams, who will play Romania's Simona Halep in the next round.

World number one Caroline Wozniacki took just 59 minutes to power past Arantxa Parra Santonja 6-2 6-1.

The Dane is under pressure to perform well to justify her position at the top of the rankings despite not having won a Grand Slam.

Virginie Razzano is next up for Wozniacki after she beat Sania Mirza of India 7-6 2-6 6-3.

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