Williams wins on Wimbledon return, Stephens crashes out

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Wimbledon's Number One Court rose in appreciation as seven-time champion Serena Williams kicked off her first appearance since 2016 with a victory.

Williams dispatched Arantxa Rus 7-5 6-3 on Monday, a result that sees her join sister Venus in the second round.

Venus' three-set win over Johanna Larsson was followed by 40 questions in her post-match news conference, the elder sister giving little for the world's media to work with.

Sloane Stephens fared less well as the French Open finalist became an early casualty, while Victoria Azarenka came away with a sore knee after a nasty slip in her win against Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Caroline Wozniacki needed less than an hour to claim her first win of the grand slam, but last year's semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova bowed out.

And there will be mixed emotions in the Pliskova family after Karolina progressed but twin sister Kristyna did not.

 

SERENA HOPING TO ATTRACT ROYALTY

Royalty at Wimbledon is not something new and Serena Williams hopes she can do enough to tempt Meghan Markle to Centre Court.

Williams attended the Duchess of Sussex's wedding to Prince Harry in May, and the pair were together again at a polo event on Saturday – Williams delaying her Wimbledon media duties.

And the seven-time champion has not ruled out her friend paying a visit to SW19, but she knows she needs to keep winning to do that.

"I don't know [if Meghan is coming]," she said after her win over Rus. "We'll see.

"[Maybe] if I keep winning!" 

 

STEPHENS KEEN TO MOVE ON

Stephens (4) suffered a second first-round grand-slam exit since winning her first major at last year's US Open as she was beaten 6-1 6-3 by Donna Vekic.

But the American is determined not to dwell on the setback, even if she concedes the pressure will be on at Flushing Meadows.

"I don't hang on to things very long," she said. "You just think about what I did wrong, what I can improve, what I'm going to do next. I let go of it and move on.

"I think coming up, the US Open, very special moment for an American to win a US Open. I'm honoured to be able to go back as defending champion.

"I think there is a lot of pressure. I've never done it before. A lot of other people have. First go around sometimes isn't that great. I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure that I'm prepared, in the best shape possible, hopefully playing some good tennis by the time the US Open comes around."

 

WOZNIACKI FULL OF BELIEF

Wozniacki arrives at Wimbledon on the back of victory at the Nature Valley International and opened her campaign with a 6-0 6-3 demolition of Varvara Lepchenko.

And the Dane hopes her recent success can continue to inspire her at the All England Club.

"Right now I think Eastbourne [has boosted my confidence]. I just won that a couple of days ago," the Australian Open champion said. "I feel like I'm hitting the ball well, I'm doing great.

"Obviously Australian Open is a great booster, as well, knowing that I can do it and I've gone all the way in a grand slam. It feels great."

MEANWHILE...

Harriet Dart's first appearance at Wimbledon - a three-set defeat to Karolina Pliskova - landed her with a windfall of £39,000.

But the realities of sustaining a tennis career means she will not be splashing the cash in a hurry.

"I have a lot of expenses that I incur," she explained. "Week-to-week I have my travel, my flights, my food, my accommodation. If I take a coach with me, I have all my coach's expenses.

"For me it's just being able to get by, reinvest it into my tennis."