LONDON - Serena Williams dusted off a few cobwebs to power into the second round at Wimbledon on Monday, surviving an early wobble against Russian qualifier Margarita Gasparyan to win 6-4 6-1.
The women's tennis world No. 1 made an inauspicious start to her bid for a sixth Wimbledon title and a second non-calendar year Grand Slam when the lowly ranked Russian broke in the opening game and held on bravely as Williams slowly warmed up.
The frustration was clearly telling on the American as she trailed by a break and 2-3 in the opening set, an audible obscenity earning her a warning from the umpire.
"I knew she would be a good player. I can't say I thought she would be that good!" Williams said. "When you're winning three matches in qualifying you're really ready to go the distance and when she's playing with me she's got nothing to lose.
"She came out so fast I was like, 'oh my God, if I don't start I'm going to be down a set' and I'm tired of being down a set so I just really tried to get out."
She received little respite from Gasparyan, whose rasping ground-strokes frequently found their target, but Williams discovered her rhythm, broke to level for 3-3 and did not look back.
Williams now faces Hungary's Timea Babos, the world No. 93, in the second round tomorrow.
The American - who has 20 Grand Slam titles - has never won the Wimbledon, Australian, French and US Open titles all in the same season. Only Maureen Connolly (1953), Margaret Court (1970) and Steffi Graf (1988) have achieved the feat.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE