Top seeds Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams cruised into the Wimbledon second round yesterday as the All England Club recovered from the shockwaves of Rafael Nadal’s exit 24 hours earlier.
World number one Djokovic, the 2011 champion, beat Germany’s Florian Mayer 6-3, 7-5, 6-4, in the Serb’s first grass-court outing of the season and his first match since his shattering five-set semi-final loss to Nadal at the French Open.
“It was a big pleasure to play in front of a packed Centre Court against a tricky rival like Mayer. He’s got a great variety of shots and his game is well-suited to grass,” said Djokovic, who next faces either Bobby Reynolds or Steve Johnson.
Defending champion Williams, chasing a sixth Wimbledon title and 17th major, racked-up her 32nd successive win, cruising to a 6-1, 6-3 win over Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella.
Her 57-minute romp on Centre Court briefly deflected attention away from the storm surrounding her controversial comments on a US high school rape case and the fall-out from her criticism of Maria Sharapova’s love life.
The 31-year-old took out her frustrations on the hapless Minella, the world number 92 who has never defeated a top-30 player let alone one of Williams' calibre whose French Open title three weeks ago took her majors haul to 16.
Victory was also her 75th in her last 78 matches, a run that stretches back to her shock first round departure at Roland Garros in 2012, the worst Grand Slam exit of her career.
Yesterday’s 32nd successive win took her to within just three of the record set by older sister Venus in 2000. “I never think about the run, I just treat every match like a new one,” said Williams. “It was special coming out as defending champion. I played great and I have some great memories.”
Williams did not concede a single point on her serve in the first set and finished the match with 25 winners to Minella’s five. She goes on to face French qualifier Caroline Garcia, who she beat in the second round in Paris, for a place in the last 32.