Wimbledon: ‘Rusty’ Williams stays focused

Slovakia's Anna Schmiedlova eyes the ball for a return. Picture: Getty
Slovakia's Anna Schmiedlova eyes the ball for a return. Picture: Getty
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Defending champion Serena Williams insists the spat with Maria Sharapova was not behind her “rusty” performance in yesterday’s Wimbledon opener.

A five-time champion at the All England Club, the American began her campaign with a 6-1 6-3 victory over world No 92 Mandy Minella.

It was a welcome return to on-field battles after a tournament build-up focused on Williams’ relationship with Sharapova, who took unkindly to comments attributed to the American in Rolling Stone magazine.

Sharapova took a swipe at the top seed’s love life in riposte, leading tongues to wag and talk of a storm brewing at the top of the women’s game – not that Williams has noticed.

Asked if she had been distracted or had any further remarks, Williams exclaimed: “Really? No, it hasn’t been a distraction. Like I said, I’m just here to focus on the tennis.

“Being defending champion is always a special moment for 12 months that you’re going to play at one o’clock on Tuesday. It definitely felt good to step out there and be on the court and hit some balls around.”

Elsewhere in the women’s draw, 42-year-old Japanese ­veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm beat German 18-year-old Carina Witthoeft 6-0, 6-2 in just 44 minutes.

Date-Krumm is the second oldest player to have won a match at Wimbledon after Martina Navratilova, who was 47 when she reached the second round in 2004.

Samantha Stosur, the 2011 US Open champion, eased past Anna Schmiedlova 6-1 6-3.