Williams gets her quest for Slam up and running

Serena Williams
Serena Williams
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Serena Williams took a while to get going but the five-time champion stayed on course for the calendar Grand Slam by preserving her unbeaten Wimbledon first-round record.

Twenty-year-old Margarita Gasparyan, a Russian making her Wimbledon debut, led 3-1 in the opening set but could not sustain the early onslaught as Williams ran out a 6-4 6-1 winner.

A fall by Williams in the sixth game, and a code violation warning for an audible obscenity, might have put off a lesser player, but the 33-year-old American put both behind her in claiming her 16th first-round win at Wimbledon in as many attempts.

She is targeting the feat of winning all four majors in the same year, last achieved in women’s singles by Steffi Graf in 1988.

Williams is also just a Wimbledon triumph away from the second non-calendar ‘Serena Slam’ of her illustrious career.

She has no enthusiasm to talk about the calendar Grand Slam, but knows her game has hit remarkable heights since losing in the third round at Wimbledon 12 months ago.

“I’ve had such an amazing year, I ended up winning the (US) Open, the (WTA) Championships, the Australian and France. I couldn’t have dreamt of a better 12 months. So it’s been really great. I’m just excited about that and really focusing on that,” she said.

“I always focus on the moment. I don’t live too far in the future, and I don’t live in the past, I just live in the present.”

Former semi-finalist Victoria Azarenka coasted through her opening match as she became the first woman through to the second round. The 25-year-old Belarusian reached the last-four stage in 2011 and 2012, and overwhelmed Estonian Anett Kontaveit 6-2 6-1 in just 57 minutes on Court 12.

Serbian seventh seed Ana Ivanovic enjoyed a swift 6-1 6-1 victory over China’s Xu Yi-fan, and Australian Sam Stosur, seeded 22nd, won 6-4 6-4 against Montenegrin Danka Kovinic.

Venus Williams joined her younger sister in the second round by winning 6-0 6-0 against fellow American Madison Brengle.

The 35-year-old torched the hopes of an opponent 10 years her junior to achieve the rare ‘double bagel’ and make the prospect of an all-Williams fourth-round clash look perfectly realistic.

It took the five-time champion just 41 minutes on Court Three, firing six aces and 29 winners in all against an outclassed opponent.

There was remarkably another 6-0 6-0 victory minutes later as Andrea Petkovic of Germany inflicted the same humiliation on American Shelby Rogers, at 22-year-old who was making her Wimbledon debut.

Russian Maria Sharapova, the 2004, champion eased to a 6-2 6-2 win over Great Britain’s Johanna Konta on Centre Court, and last week’s Eastbourne champion, Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic, recovered from a slow start to overcome Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 3-6 6-1 6-3.