Wimbledon: Serena wins in return to Grand slam play

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 21, 2011

By Howard Fendrich
Associated Press
WIMBLEDON, England ó The 352 days Serena Williams lived through between Grand Slam appearances were filled with health problems and hospitalizations, doubts and depression.
Cuts from glass on both feet. One subsequent operation on her right foot, then a second. Clots in her lungs. Surgery to remove a pool of blood under her skin. On and on it went.
Finally healthy, and finally back at a major tournament, Williams was simply overwhelmed by it all at the conclusion of her match at Wimbledon on Tuesday. As soon as she snapped off her 13th ace of the afternoon to close an uneven performance in a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Aravane Rezai of France in the first round, Williams placed her right palm on her chest. Her eyes welled with tears.
By the time she walked to the net to shake hands with Rezai, Williams was crying. She sat in her sideline chair, covered her face with a tournament towel and sobbed. And she kept right on bawling through a postmatch TV interview with the BBC.
ěIt definitely was so emotional for me because, you know, throughout the last 12 months, Iíve been through a lot of things thatís not normal; things you guys donít even know about,î the 29-year-old American said at her news conference. ěSo itís just been a long, arduous road. To stand up, still, is pretty awesome.î
There was none of that sort of drama on the dayís later matches on Centre Court, which included straight-set victories for Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova.
Djokovic, playing for the first time since his 43-match winning streak was ended by Federer in the French Open semifinals, eliminated Jeremy Chardy of France 6-4, 6-1, 6-1. Andy Roddick, a three-time runner-up at the All England Club, defeated qualifier Andreas Beck of Germany.
Other winners included 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, two-time French Open finalist Robin Soderling, top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki and French Open champion Li Na.
Day 2 of Wimbledon also featured a rematch of the longest match in tennis history. In a sequel that couldnít possibly live up to the original, John Isner beat Nicolas Mahut 7-6 (4), 6-2, 7-6 (6) in 2 hours, 3 minutes ó 9 hours, 2 minutes shorter, and 149 fewer games, than their first-round match at the All England Club a year ago, when Isner won 70-68 in the fifth set.
ěIt wasnít easy,î Isner said, ěbut obviously it was considerably quicker than the last time we played.î