Better than anyone in the world right now, really.
Extending her winning streak to 32 matches, the longest single-season run on the women's tour since 2000, Williams began her bid for a sixth
"You can call her pretty much unbeatable," Minella said. "She's playing better than ever. … Every time she steps on court, you can see why."
And yet Williams, the defending champion at the All
"After today, there's so many ways that I can improve," the No. 1-ranked and No. 1-seeded Williams said, "and that I'm going to need to improve if I want to be in the second week of this tournament."
Really? How about some examples?
"Come on," Williams replied, tilting her head and smiling.
Here was Mouratoglou's take after watching Williams win her first 17 service points and compile a 25-5 edge in total winners on Centre Court: "I mean, of course, not everything is perfect yet. It's interesting to see what we need to work on for the [coming] days."
They also agreed that she did not have too hard a time setting aside the events of the previous seven days, which included a lot of saying "I'm sorry" — face-to-face with Sharapova, at a news conference, in two separate statements posted on the web — over things Williams was quoted as saying in a Rolling Stone story. Williams made a negative reference in a phone conversation to a top-five player's love life (the piece's author surmised that was about Sharapova) and an off-the-cuff remark about a widely publicized rape case in the U.S. that was perceived by some as criticizing the victim.
"It hasn't been a distraction," Williams insisted. "I'm just here to focus on the tennis."
All in all, by easily winning her first match since winning the
The highest-seeded player to depart Tuesday was No. 10
"It's hard for all the British players to come in here and, you know, lose first round," said Robson, who beat
Other women winning easily included No. 4
Nadal's straight-set loss to 135th-ranked Steve Darcis was still a main topic of conversation, and top-seeded
"To be honest, I was expecting him to be a bit rusty on the court," Djokovic said. "In the opening rounds, obviously, it's very dangerous for top players who haven't been playing on grass. … On the other side of the net is somebody that is lower ranked, he has nothing to lose, so he's going for his shots."
As Djokovic dispatched 34th-ranked
Sam Querrey, seeded 21st, lost, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3), 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, to 59th-ranked Australian
Tomic ripped the
"I knew he was kind of dizzy, but let's go; it's a physical game," Querrey said. "That's part of it. If you're dizzy or hurt, you've got to play through it. You can't just take breaks. That's not why I lost. But I felt I had some momentum there and that leveled the playing field for the fifth set."
It's been difficult for any opponent to things close against Williams lately, even if she claimed Tuesday, "I never feel invincible."
Her practice-makes-perfect pledge might give future opponents pause, starting with Caroline Garcia, who will face Williams in the second round for the second Grand Slam tournament in a row. After losing to Williams, 6-1, 6-2, at the French Open last month, Garcia made these observations: "I need to work on my game to pose more problems for her next time" and "She hits hard."
You don't say.
Dealing with serves that came in at up to 121 mph (195 kph) — that readout on the speed clock prompted murmuring among impressed spectators — Minella managed to put only half of her returns in play.
"When I stood right in front of her, I looked at her and not at the ball at the beginning. Because it's just unreal; because I've never played against this type of player. It's a lot of stuff you have to deal with," Minella said.
"The strength and the heavy spin of her serve is definitely better than anyone else, I would say," Minella added. "It is different from what I've seen. But it's also because it's too good. … Many other players wouldn't reach the ball today."
Still, for a brief moment, Minella appeared to be getting into the match. A double-fault by Williams handed over a break that gave Minella a 2-0 lead in the second set. Serving at 40-30 in the next game, Minella was a point from a 3-0 edge.
That's when Williams got her act together, producing a cross-court backhand winner to get to deuce while taking 15 of 18 points to go ahead, 4-2.