LONDON – Five-time champion Venus Williams suffered her worst Wimbledon defeat in 15 years on Monday, slumping to a first round exit at the hands of Russia’s Elena Vesnina.
Williams lost 6-1, 6-3 to the 79th-ranked Russian in what was the 32-year-old’s first opening round loss at the All England Club since her 1997 bow. Defeat for the American star, unseeded for the first time since that debut year, will also cast further doubts over her future in the sport. She arrived at Wimbledon desperately short of fitness and confidence with a world ranking down at 58 following a six-month absence from the tour suffering from Sjogern’s Syndrome, which causes joint pain and fatigue.
Monday’s defeat was just her fourth loss at the first round stage of a Grand Slam against 52 wins and it also followed a dispiriting second round exit at the French Open. Williams, the 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008 Wimbledon champion, was beaten in the quarter-finals in 2010 and fourth round in 2011, both times falling to Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria in straight sets. Vesnina, who had lost in the first round of nine of her last 10 Grand Slam apperances, will face Polish third seed Agnieszka Radwanska for a place in the last 32. Sharapova into next round: World number one Maria Sharapova swept into the Wimbledon second round with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Australia’s Anastasia Rodionova on Monday.
Sharapova was playing for the first time since her French Open final victory over Sara Errani earlier this month and the Russian’s confidence was clearly sky high as she demolished Rodionova in just 70 minutes. The 25-year-old will face Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova, who reached the semi-finals in 2010, in the last 64. “The French Open was a wonderful moment in my career but only a few days after that you come to London and are gearing up for Wimbledon, so you don’t have much time to enjoy it,” Sharapova said.
“But when Wimbledon is on the line that’s the only way to do it and I’m really happy to be back on Centre Court. “It’s always difficult coming into a grand slam with little practice on grass. The first matches are always tricky.
“I’m happy with the way I played but there’s no doubt I can improve.” Sharapova’s triumph in Paris was a magical moment as it completed a career grand slam and capped her recovery from serious shoulder surgery that, at one stage, looked capable of wrecking her career.
But there was no chance of Sharapova, who won Wimbledon as a 17-year-old, resting on her laurels as she still has unfinished business at the All England Club. The Russian has reached the final in three of the last four grand slams, but the first of those ended in a surprise defeat to Petra Kvitova here 12 months ago. Sharapova was back on Centre Court for the first time since then and the top seed looked determined to erase those bitter memories.-Pakistantoday