Defending champion Williams into second round with straight sets win
32nd straight win equals Justine Henin's feat of 2007-2008
Last year's runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska drops just two games against Austrian qualifier
World number one Serena Williams put her recent controversies to one side as she cruised past Mandy Minella of Luxembourg 6-1 6-3 in the first round at Wimbledon.
Worryingly for her opponents, the defending champion – who won every point on her serve in the first set – said she wasn’t at the top of her game despite winning her 32nd consecutive match.
The run is the best since 2008, when Belgium’s Justine Henin achieved a similar number of straight wins.
Serena is now just three wins away from the women’s record, which is something of a family affair after elder sister Venus recorded her 35th unbeaten game in 2000.
The world No. 1 will break that record if she reaches the quarterfinals at a venue where she also won Olympic gold last year.
“I feel like I was a little rusty for some reason today,” Serena, who is bidding for a sixth Wimbledon title, told reporters after a victory that took just 57 minutes.
“I don’t feel like I played my best tennis. I felt really upset when I lost my serve at the beginning in the second set - that said, I think Mandy played really well.”
“To be honest, I’m a little excited I was able to play a tough match and get through it.”
The past week certainly hasn’t been as smooth as Serena would have liked after becoming embroiled in a row with Maria Sharapova and having to defend comments made in an article that appeared in Rolling Stone magazine.
The American has since apologized to the Russian after the article included a veiled reference to the latter’s relationship with Bulgarian player Grigor Dimitrov in addition to controversial comments about the rape of a 16-year-old girl in Ohio.
In reply, Sharapova made stinging comments about Williams’ own personal life, with the American romantically linked with her French coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who was courtside on Monday.
“I personally talked to Maria at the player party. I said; ‘Look, I want to personally apologize to you if you are offended by being brought into my situation. I want to take this moment to just pour myself, be open, say I’m very sorry for this whole situation’,” Williams said on Sunday.
The 16-time grand slam winner is in the form of her life at the age of 31 and may be reassessing how long she has left at the top following the feats of Kimiko Date-Krumm, who Williams could meet in the third round.
The 1996 semifinalist, who is just three months short of her 43rd birthday, beat an opponent who was just four when the Japanese made her Wimbledon debut in 1989.
18-year-old German qualifier Carina Witthoeft was no match for the veteran as Date-Krumm won 6-0 6-2 before revealing one of the secrets of her success.
“I’m taking care of my body, because of course the most difficult thing is recovery. I need more training. But if I do too much, I feel tired,” she said.
“I like Chinese tea. Sometimes Japanese tea. I drink a lot. I have a tea pot I always I carry. It’s here with me now.”
In other highlights on Tuesday, the home crowd had a match to savor on Court One as 19-year-old Briton Laura Robson knocked out tenth seed Maria Kirilenko, who made the quarterfinals last year.
The world number 38 claimed a 6-3, 6-4 win.
“That was a big one for me just because of all the nerves and playing in front of your home crowd at Wimbledon,” said Robson, who won Wimbledon as a junior.
Elsewhere, Polish fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska – who finished runner-up to Williams last year - cruised past Austrian qualifier Yvonne Meusberger with a 6-1 6-1 victory.