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Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova hasn't had the best of years since her maiden Grand Slam triumph at SW19 last year. Though she has done consistently well at the majors, making the odd semi-final appearances, her form on less glamorous stages has failed to excite. Most pundits would write it off to the honeymoon period that goes with a youngster winning their first Grand Slam, which usually comes to an end when it is time to defend that title.
World no.4 Kvitova had the honour as a result to be the first woman to walk onto Centre Court on what was traditionally Ladies Day at Wimbledon and kick-off proceedings with her parents watching from the Royal Box. Her match against Uzbekistan's Akgul Amanmuradova was supposed to be a walk in the park, but someone forgot to share that part of the script with the tall Uzbeki girl.
Akgul raced away to a 3-0 lead before Kvitova finally got on the scoreboard at the Championships, and then nudged ahead 4-1 before the defending champion finally shed her nerves and rattled off 5 games in a row to just about sneak away with the first set 6-4.
The second set was also a fiesty affair, and was interrupted for nearly half-an-hour by some light showers before Kvitova could come back on court to wrap up a solid 6-4, 6-4 win and book her place in round two where she will meet the winner of the match between local girl Elena Baltacha or the unheralded Karin Knapp.
Four time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams joined Kvitova in round 2. Relegated to court 2, the same place where sister Venus lost her opening match yesterday, Serena cruised past Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4.
World no.2 Victoria Azarenka also powered her way into the second round, beating Irina Falconi 6-1, 6-4 in a little over an hour and a quarter. The reigning Australian Open champion will next do battle with Romina Operandi.
Other early winners included a couple of former runners-up at the Championships, Marion Bartoli and Vera Zvonareva. Bartoli beat Casey Dellacqua of Australia 6-2, 6-4, while Zvonareva completed the final set of her match carried forward from last night, squeezing past talented German Mona Barthel 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-4.
Lucie Safarova was the only seeded player to go down in the afternoon, losing rather tamely to Dutch girl Kiki Bertens 6-3, 6-0. There were also wins for former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, Chinese veteran Zheng Jie, American teenager Christina McHale and 31st seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Singles - First Round
(4) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB) 64 64
(6) Serena Williams (USA) d. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) 62 64
(9) Marion Bartoli (FRA) d. Casey Dellacqua (AUS) 62 64
(12) Vera Zvonareva (RUS) d. Mona Barthel (GER) 26 76(3) 64
Kiki Bertens (NED) d. (19) Lucie Safarova (CZE) 63 60
(24) Francesca Schiavone (ITA) d. (WC) Laura Robson (GBR) 26 64 64
(25) Zheng Jie (CHN) d. StÃ©phanie Dubois (CAN) 46 64 63
(28) Christina McHale (USA) d. (WC) Johanna Konta (GBR) 67(4) 62 108
(31) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d. Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) 61 62
Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) d. Vera Dushevina (RUS) 62 75
(Q) Mirjana Lucic (CRO) d. Alexandra Panova (RUS) 46 63 64
(Q) Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) d. Polona Hercog (SLO) 62 62
(WC) Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) d. Chanelle Scheepers (RSA) 76(5) 76(5)
File Photograph Copyright:Â·Richard Van Mellaerts
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