WIMBLEDON, England Wimbledon began with a few surprises Monday. There was lots of sunshine, Serena Williams wore a raincoat anyway and Roger Federer's changeover routine was interrupted by a friendly visit from his opponent.
The tennis went mostly as expected. Federer, Williams and new women's No. 1 Ana Ivanovic won in straight sets. Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic also eased into the second round, while American men went 1-4.
The top-ranked Federer began his bid for a sixth consecutive Wimbledon title by winning the first match on Centre Court. Sporting a classy cardigan, he stepped onto the fresh grass promptly at 1 p.m. and looked eager to dispel the notion he's in decline, winning the first 11 points and beating former doubles partner Dominik Hrbaty 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.
During a changeover one game from the finish, the 30-year-old Hrbaty broke with protocol by wandering over to the seated Federer.
"I looked over and there he was," Federer said. "He asked if he could sit next to me. I said, 'Sure. There's no problem. There's an extra seat.' We go way back. He said it might be his last Wimbledon, so it was almost a little bit emotional."
Said Hrbaty: "If it had been someone else, I wouldn't have done it. We've had a lot of good times together. I just wanted to tell him he's a great friend of mine, and I appreciate that."
Federer extended his grass-court winning streak to 60 matches, including 35 at the All England Club, and yet his continuing domination is in doubt because he struggled the first half of the year.
That might help explain his prematch jitters.
"I did feel all of a sudden a little pressure about two minutes before I went on court," Federer said. "I felt like, 'Wow, OK, here we go. Let's try to get off to a good start.' I did."
He looked as regal as ever in his warmup outfit, highlighted by a beige, four-button sweater with gold trim and a stylized F on the left breast.
But judging from postmatch interviews, Federer was upstaged on the fashion front perhaps a further sign he's in decline. His apparel inspired only one question, while Williams fielded five queries about the stylish white trench coat she wore onto court before beating Kaia Kanepi 7-5, 6-3.
A sample of the questions and Williams' responses:
Q: Was that an effort to keep the rain away this year?
A: I just love coats. I'm always buying Burberry coats. And I don't know why, because I live in Florida, so it doesn't really add up. Now I have a wonderful white coat I can wear on the court.
Q: It looked almost Carnaby Street-inspired. Was it a '60s retro look?
A: It's definitely kind of retro-inspired buckles on the wrist, the waistband tie. You can tie it or button it.
Q: It's not necessarily a piece of athletic attire. Did you have to get any special permission from the club to wear it?
A: It's definitely not athletic attire. But it's ladylike, and I'm very ladylike. It goes perfect with my personality. ... It's just delectable. -->
There were only three questions about Williams' match, even though it provided a bit of drama when she faced a break point serving at 5-all in the first set.
Kanepi, an Estonian who reached the French Open quarterfinals, takes lusty swings that often put two-time champion Williams on the defensive. But Williams endured the onslaught and took charge after Kanepi double-faulted to end the first set.
"Today definitely was not an easy match," Williams said. "She was playing unbelievable. I felt like she wasn't making any errors. I just felt like I just had to hang in there and stay positive."
The match was the first for the Williams sisters since they lost on the same day in the third round at the French Open. They flew from France to Florida and prepared for grass by hitting on hard-courts.
The unorthodox preparation for Wimbledon is standard for the sisters and not to be questioned they've won the title six of the past eight years.
"We just go home and practice in the hot sun," said Serena, who is seeded sixth. "We're so ready to leave Florida. We're like, 'We're going to do anything we can to stay at the tournament as long as we can so we don't have to go back in that heat."
Defending champion Venus Williams begins her bid for a fifth Wimbledon title today when she faces wild card Naomi Cavaday of Britain.
Ivanovic played her first match as the No. 1 woman and French Open champion, and the 20-year-old Serb seemed comfortable in the new role, beating Rossana de Los Rios 6-1, 6-2.
"Becoming No. 1 takes more pressure, but also you have to see pressure for what it is," Ivanovic said. "It's a reflection of your own ambition. If you see it as a positive thing, it means that you put yourself in a position to do something memorable. So if you look at it that way, it can be very motivating."
Fellow Serb Djokovic bounced back from a bad set to beat Michael Berrer 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0.
The highest-seeded player to lose was No. 7 David Nalbandian, eliminated by Canadian Frank Dancevic 6-4, 6-2, 6-4. Lleyton Hewitt, who beat Nalbandian in the 2002 final, fist-pumped his way to a five-set victory over Robin Haase. Two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin also won.
Despite the sunny weather, it was another in a series of dismal days for U.S. tennis. The only American woman to join Williams in the second round was Bethanie Mattek, who rallied past Severine Bremond 5-7, 6-0, 6-1. Ashley Harkleroad lost to 2006 champion Amelie Mauresmo 6-4, 6-3.
The lone U.S. male to win was Bobby Reynolds, who advanced when Filippo Volandri retired with a sore left knee after losing the first two sets. Eliminated were Vince Spadea, Kevin Kim and 2008 Olympians Sam Querrey and Robby Ginepri.
Spadea blew a big lead against Thomas Johansson and lost 6-7 (8), 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. Querrey also started fast but lost to former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Ginepri was eliminated by No. 15-seeded Fernando Gonzalez, and Kim lost to big-serving Robin Soderling, who will play Federer.
"This first day was just a bunch of tough draws for the guys," Reynolds said. "I guess I'm happy that I won, but obviously you'd like to see all the Americans do well."
The three highest-ranked Americans Andy Roddick, James Blake and Mardy Fish are scheduled to play their opening matches today. No word yet on what they'll wear.