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Wimbledon: A day later, Serena Williams wins at Wimbledon

By Howard Fendrich

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, June 26 2012 9:31 p.m. MDT

Serena Williams reacts during her first round victory against Czech Republic's Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

Andrew Yates,Afp/Getty Images

WIMBLEDON, England — On one point Tuesday at Wimbledon, Serena Williams dumped a forehand into the net and dropped to a knee, her jaw clenched as she let out a shriek.

On another, she pushed a backhand into the net while her feet gave way, yet again leaving her awkwardly splayed on the grass at Court 2, the same place where her sister Venus lost a day earlier.

By the end, the younger Williams was screaming after nearly every point, good or bad — and, well, there were plenty of both. Her harder-than-the-score-looked 6-2, 6-4 victory over the 62nd-ranked Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic in the first round at the All England Club wasn't exactly perfect or pretty.

"Definitely a little relief," the sixth-seeded Williams said. "I was letting out a lot of cries. I was happy to get through that."

Yes, Williams got the job done, something she couldn't say the last time she was at a major championship. Last month at the French Open, the 30-year-old American tossed away a big lead — nine times, she was two points from victory — and lost to a woman ranked 111th, the only first-round exit of Williams' career in 48 Grand Slam tournaments.

"I learned that you got to ... keep going," Williams said about that stunning defeat. "I was really disappointed. Obviously, I was extremely disappointed. But as Kelly Clarkson says, 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.'"

In part because of a series of health scares that sidelined her for about 10 months, Williams has gone two years since the most recent of her 13 major titles, including four at Wimbledon. And even though she bowed out quickly in Paris, Williams is a popular pick to do well this fortnight.

"For me, when I'm playing a match," Williams said, "I either win it or lose it."

She'll want to play better than she did against Zahlavova Strycova, who is 0-21 against top-10 opponents, 13-27 in Grand Slam matches, and never has made it past the third round at any major.

Last year, Williams questioned why tournament organizers assigned her and her sister to play on Court 2 rather than the larger and more prestigious Centre Court or Court 1. They have, after all, won a total of nine singles championships at Wimbledon and faced each other in four of those finals.

Given that Venus lost in straight sets on Court 2 on Monday, and Serena went through a workout to win there on Tuesday, the issue came up.

"I can't even talk about it. I'm over it," Williams said, raising her left palm. "I just can't talk about that right now. I'm not in the mood."

Wimbledon at a glance

Men's Seeded Winners: No. 2 Rafael Nadal, No. 4 Andy Murray, No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro, No. 10 Mardy Fish, No. 12 Nicolas Almagro, No. 16 Marin Cilic, No. 19 Kei Nishikori, No. 22 Alexandr Dolgopolov, No. 27 Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Men's Seeded Losers: No. 14 Feliciano Lopez, No. 20 Bernard Tomic, No. 32 Kevin Anderson

Women's Seeded Winners: No. 2 Victoria Azarenka, No. 4 Petra Kvitova, No. 6 Serena Williams, No. 9 Marion Bartoli, No. 12 Vera Zvonareva, No. 21 Roberta Vinci, No. 24 Francesca Schiavone, No. 25 Zheng Jie, No. 26 Anabel Medina Garrigues, No. 28 Christina McHale, No. 31 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Women's Seeded Losers: No. 19 Lucie Safarova, No. 32 Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Stat of the Day: 0 — Number of Australian men reaching the second round, the first time that's happened at Wimbledon since 1938.

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