Serena Williams, Nadal win Wimbledon openers

SerenaSerena?Williams finished with an ace and a curtsy, showing she’s ready for the queen and a lot more at Wimbledon.

The defending champion won her opening match Tuesday, relying on an overpowering serve to beat 17-year-old Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal 6-0, 6-4.

Williams won all 27 points on her first serve and hit 15 aces, the last on her final shot. As the crowd applauded her victory, Williams curtsied, mindful Queen Elizabeth II is expected to visit Wimbledon for the first time since 1977 on Thursday.

Williams plays her second-round match that day and has been practicing her curtsy.

“I want it to be more natural,” she said. “Right now it feels really forced. Seems like I’ve never done a curtsy before, which may be true. But I’m looking forward to nailing it.”

The queen may also get to see top-ranked Rafael Nadal, who advanced by beating Japanese wild card Kei Nishikori 6-2, 6-4, 6-4. It was Nadal’s first match at Wimbledon since he became the 2008 champion; he missed last year’s tournament because of knee tendinitis.

“For me it was a very special moment to come back to this, probably the nicest Centre Court in the world,” Nadal said. “I’m enjoying a lot to be back in my favorite tournament.”

Neither French Open women’s finalist survived the first round. Roland Garros runner-up Samantha Stosur, ranked a career-high sixth, lost to qualifier Kaia Kanepi 6-4, 6-4. Surprise French Open winner Francesca Schiavone was beaten Monday.

“No doubt it’s a quick turnaround,” Stosur said. “The champions of the game can do it back to back. That’s the kind of pedestal that you want to try to look up to and try to get to yourself.”

Maria Sharapova, the 2004 Wimbledon champion, needed only 54 minutes to beat lucky loser Anastasia Pivovarova 6-1, 6-0. No. 3-seeded Caroline Wozniacki swept Tathiana Garbin 6-1, 6-1.

Former top-five player James Blake, returning from a three-month layoff because of a right knee injury, lost to Robin Haase 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.

“The knee is not great,” Blake said. “If it doesn’t get better soon, I’m not sure how much longer I want to play in pain.”

No. 6 Robin Soderling, runner-up at the French Open the past two years, beat American Robby Ginepri 6-2, 6-2, 6-3. No. 18 Sam Querrey of the United States won. No. 4 Andy Murray, No. 9 David Ferrer and No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also advanced.

Williams played first on Centre Court and remained unbeaten in opening Grand Slam matches. She’s 43-0 in the first round at major events.

For her return to Wimbledon on a warm, sunny afternoon, the three-time champion wore a cream dress with red trim.

“Strawberries and cream,” she said.

Larcher de Brito, ranked 148th, has three wins over top-20 players but was overwhelmed at the start, needing 33 minutes to win a game.

The teenager then began to play better, and grunts that accompanied her shots grew louder. Last year, French Open opponent Aravane Rezai complained that Larcher de Brito’s shrieks were too loud, and the noise drew considerable attention from the British media at Wimbledon.

“Anything with my grunting, I don’t want to answer,” Larcher de Brito said. “I don’t want to go down the same road again.”

Williams grunted, too. There were some vigorous rallies down the stretch, with Larcher de Brito holding her own as both players scrambled along the baseline.

“She definitely packs a punch,” Williams said. “It was good for me because most people that do play nowadays hit really hard. It was good to get someone that hit really hard early on.”

Williams packed the bigger punch ? she finished with 47 winners to six for Larcher de Brito, many on serves that reached up to 119 mph.

“It’s not even about the pace, because I could deal with that,” Larcher de Brito said. “But she places it so well. When she aims for targets, she really hits that line or just clips that line.”

In the final game, Williams hit a service winner and three aces to close out the victory. She said poor serving cost her when she was upset by Stosur in the quarterfinals at the French Open.

“I served so terrible my last match at the French,” Williams said. “I went home and worked really hard on my serve. I was incredibly disappointed with it. Had a talk with my serve. I said, ‘You know, we got to do a little bit better.'”

Williams reached double figures in aces for the eighth time this year, most on the women’s tour. She has won 58 of her past 59 matches against players ranked outside the top 100.

Nadal was in control from the start against Nishikori, and the Spaniard lost serve only once while committing just 16 unforced errors.

Nadal, who won his fifth French Open title this month, is seeded second at Wimbledon to six-time champion Roger Federer. The two could meet in the final.

Murray defeated Jan Hajek 7-5, 6-1, 6-2; Ferrer beat Nicolas Kiefer 6-4, 6-2, 6-3; and Tsonga downed Robert Kendrick of the U.S. 7-6 (2), 7-6 (8), 3-6, 6-4.

Querrey, who won his first career grass-court title at Queen’s this month, advanced when Sergiy Stakhovsky retired because of illness trailing 7-6 (4), 6-3, 2-1. Stakhovsky won the grass title this month at Den Bosch, Netherlands.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova was aced 16 times but still beat Akgul Amanmuradova 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-4. No. 7-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Melinda Czink 6-3, 6-3, and No. 10 Flavia Pennetta swept Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-4, 6-0.

Source: The Associated Press.