at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London - Serena Williams made an excellent start to Wimbledon on Tuesday, coming through an athletic first-round match against Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova that was tougher than the 6-2, 6-4 scoreline would suggest.
The Czech, ranked 62nd in the world, was a dogged, determined opponent for the sixth seed on Court Two, chasing down every ball.
However, she found Serena's powerful first serve tough to handle, staggering backwards like a punch-drunk boxer when the ball thundered towards her.
Serena served for the match at 5-3 but Zahlavova Strycova broke her in a long ninth game, after forcing the American to slide across the grass to save two of three breakpoints.
Serena, who last won here two years ago, broke straight back, taking the victory on her second matchpoint and letting out a scream of joy when the Czech put a forehand long.
Serena, whose older sister Venus lost in the first round on Monday, will face Hungarian qualifier Melinda Czink in the second round.
She may hope to be on a bigger court next time, having wondered aloud at previous Wimbledon tournaments why she was so often scheduled to be on the smaller Court Two.
Asked about that complaint on Tuesday, Serena was reluctant to reply.
“I just can't talk about that right now, I'm not in the mood,” she told a news conference.
She was more forthcoming when asked what she had learnt from her shock first-round defeat at the French Open last month.
“I learnt that... you've got to keep going,” she said. “I was playing excellent before Paris.
“I was really disappointed, obviously I was extremely disappointed. But, as Kelly Clarkson says, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger,” she said with a laugh.
Serena said she was delighted to be have been confirmed on the US Olympic team on Tuesday and was looking forward to defending her doubles title with Venus next month at Wimbledon.
“I love playing doubles with her normally but especially at the Olympics. It's a whole another level. I really enjoy the opportunity to play with her, so it is real cool.” - Reuters