French Open champion Garbine Muguruza says she had to play ugly to negotiate Wimbledon’s perilous grass courts and a dangerous opponent.
But for an appreciative Centre Court crowd, the powerful tennis the elegant Spanish world No.2 produced in downing Camila Giorgi 6-2 5-7 6-4 looked very easy on the eye.
“Sometimes you don’t win very beautiful, but you just got to be there, you know, and fight for the match,” the 22-year-old said.
Muguruza, is no slouch on grass, having reached the final here last year but the aggressive Giorgi made her work hard to transfer her Paris clay punch to Wimbledon’s lawns.
It was the Spaniard’s confidence and enormous serve that got the better of Giorgi – but not before the 24-year-old Italian had overcome bouts of inconsistency to counter the power in the second set. Giorgi eventually forced a forehand error to grab the set before it reached a tiebreak.
Muguruza kept her cool, though, and put her foot down in the 10-minute third game of the third set, earning six break points before finally wrestling the game from the underdog.
A big serve that Giorgi could only put wide won Muguruza the match and a clash with Slovak qualifier Jana Cepelova in the second round.
“I think Wimbledon is a very tricky tournament, because the grass sometimes, it can give you surprise,” she said.
“All the matches are quite more equal,” she said.
“It’s not like in clay, where you got more time and you can survive more. Here you, right away, are in danger if you don’t go for it.”
As she has done for most of the past 19 British summers, Venus Williams took a large, languid stride into the second round.
The oldest woman in the main singles draw, five-times champion Williams was at times sublime as she beat Croatian Donna Vekic 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 on a sunny Court One.
“I felt like I couldn’t hit a winner against her today, she ran everything down and played amazing tennis,” Williams said.
“The first set, there were some hairy moments there, down some set points, but I guess that’s where experience sets in. I started to feel like maybe I had the chance to win the most important points.”
In the tournament’s first big surprise, former top-ranked Ana Ivanovic was beaten 6-2 7-5 by Ekaterina Alexandrova, a Russian qualifier ranked 223rd in the world and making her Grand Slam debut.
Angelique Kerber won the “battle of the lefties” as she beat British wildcard Laura Robson 6-2 6-2 to notch up her first grand slam victory since hoisting the Australian Open trophy in January.