Serena Williams posts hard-fought win

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WIMBLEDON, England — On one point Tuesday at Wimbledon, Serena Williams dumped a forehand into the net and dropped to a knee, her jaw clenched as she let out a shriek.

Serena Williams posted a hard-fought 6-2, 6-4 victory over Barbora Zahlavova in a first-round match. Williams has gone two years without winning a major title.  ALASTAIR GRANT/ASSOCIATED PRESS
ALASTAIR GRANT/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Serena Williams posted a hard-fought 6-2, 6-4 victory over Barbora Zahlavova in a first-round match. Williams has gone two years without winning a major title.

On another, she pushed a backhand into the net while her feet gave way, yet again leaving her awkwardly splayed on the grass at Court 2, the same place where her sister Venus lost a day earlier.

By the end, the younger Williams was screaming after nearly every point, good or bad – and, well, there were plenty of both. Her harder-than-the-score-looked 6-2, 6-4 victory over the 62nd-ranked Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, of the Czech Republic, in the first round at the All England Club wasn’t exactly perfect or pretty.

“Definitely a little relief,” the sixth-seeded Williams said. “I was letting out a lot of cries. I was happy to get through that.”

Yes, Williams got the job done, something she couldn’t say the last time she was at a major championship. In May at the French Open, the 30-year-old American tossed away a big lead – nine times, she was two points from victory – and lost to a woman ranked 111th, the only first-round exit of Williams’ career in 48 Grand Slam tournaments.

“I learned that you got to ... keep going,” Williams said about that stunning defeat. “I was really disappointed. Obviously, I was extremely disappointed. But as Kelly Clarkson says, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ ”

In part because of a series of health scares that sidelined her for about 10 months, Williams has gone two years since the most recent of her 13 major titles, including four at Wimbledon.

Some other top players were sluggish at the start against unheralded foes Tuesday, when action was cut short in the evening because of rain.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal, for instance, trailed 4-0 against 80th-ranked Thomas Bellucci, of Brazil, before turning it around and winning 7-6 (0), 6-2, 6-3.

Defending women’s champion Petra Kvitova fell behind 3-0 and 4-1 but eventually used a seven-game run to take control and beat 96th-ranked Akgul Amanmuradova 6-4, 6-4.

• Wimbledon is considering a calendar change that would have the tournament begin three weeks after the French Open instead of two, and top players like the idea of more time between the two Grand Slam events.

The proposed switch has appeal because it would give players more opportunity to adjust to grass after the clay season ends with the French Open, All England Club chief executive Richard Lewis said. The earliest the change could take place is 2014.


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