Serena Williams defeats Arantxa Rus in Wimbledon opener
Former world No 1 claims 87th victory at All England Club; Elina Svitolina suffers surprise first-round exit
Last Updated: 03/07/18 10:03am
Serena Williams began her charge for an eighth Wimbledon women’s singles title with a hard-fought straight-sets victory over world No 105 Arantxa Rus.
The former world No 1, seeded 25, played her first match at the All England Club since winning her seventh title in 2016 and overcame rustiness and blustering conditions to win 7-5 6-3.
Williams, playing only her ninth match since returning from giving birth to her first child, did not have things all her own way as her Dutch opponent threatened to cause a surprise result.
The world No 181 made an encouraging start in front of the Court 1 crowd to break Rus at the first opportunity but her early advantage was quickly pegged back by her inspired opponent in the first meeting between the pair.
Both players held serve until the 12th game of the opener before Williams secured a decisive break to clinch the first set and take the initiative.
Despite the setback of losing the first, Rus continued to compete well at the start of the second and broke Williams in the third game before an assured hold moved her 3-1 ahead.
Williams upped her level of performance to win five straight games, closing out victory with her sixth match point to book a meeting with Tereza Smitkova or Viktoriya Tomova next.
World No 5 Elina Svitolina suffered a shock first-round exit as she lost in three sets to unseeded German Tatjana Maria, who backed up her maiden WTA title in Mallorca with a fantastic performance.
Maria, 30, recorded her first victory over a top-five opponent with a 7-6 [7-3] 4-6 6-1 victory against Svitolina, who will now have to wait until the US Open next month for another chance to win her maiden Grand Slam title.
Did you know..
There were four victories for mums on the opening day at Wimbledon
Katerina Siniakova caused a surprise of her own with a 6-7 [7-3] 6-3 8-6 victory over 16th seed CoCo Vandeweghe.
The unseeded Czech recovered from a 5-3 deficit in the deciding set to progress past the first round for only the second time in her career at the expense of last year's quarter-finalist.
Agnieszka Radwanska was forced to save six match points against a spirited challenge from Elena-Gabriela Ruse before the former finalist edged through 6-3 4-6 7-5 after a marathon contest.
After the opening two sets were shared Ruse, playing in the Wimbledon main draw for the first time in her career, appeared set to pull off a big shock before the experienced Pole, semi-finalist in Eastbourne last week, showed her fighting qualities to win in the fading light.
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