The Serena Williams quest for a fourth-straight major tennis title and a possible calendar Grand Slam is now six matches away. She was supposed to breeze through the first round Monday at Wimbledon, and she did.
She beat a 20-year-old Russian qualifier, Margarita Gasparyan, 6-4, 6-1, and counted blessings about her recent success, which are victories in each major since last year's U.S. Open.
"I couldn't have dreamt of having a better 12 months," she said.
She fielded the usual questions about the importance of keeping her string of Grand Slam tournament victories going and did her best to downplay it.
"I just always focus on the moment. I live in the present," she said.
That, of course, was followed by a question about the future; about the likelihood that one of the players in her immediate path toward more records is her big sister, Venus, who won Monday, 6-0, 6-0, over Madison Brengle. Venus and Serena are each two match victories away from a fourth-round meeting.
"I didn't know that," Serena said.
Another roadblock for Serena could be fourth-seeded Maria Sharapova, who also won easily, 6-2, 6-2, over Britain's Johanna Konta.
USA men start well
U.S. men had a nice start, with John Isner, seeded 17th, and Steve Johnson, the unseeded former USC star, advancing. Isner beat Go Soeda of Japan, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4, and Johnson battled through a five-setter against Lukas Lacko of Slovakia and prevailed, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Tommy Haas, a 37-year-old still playing at a high level, got through his first round, 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, against Dusan Lajovic of Serbia. Haas is from Germany, but splits his residency now between Los Angeles and Bradenton, Fla.
Fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, the recent French Open champion, prevailed against Joao Sousa of Portugal, 6-2, 7-5, 7-6 (3).
Top-seeded Novak Djokovic spent part of his post-match interview debunking accusations that he is getting illegal signals from his coaches in the stands, especially three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker.
He denied his team was cheating and had a nice touche' answer when asked whether there had been any signals during Monday's match or any words in Serbian?
"Unfortunately — or fortunately," Djokovic said, "He [Becker] doesn't speak Serbian."
Defending doubles champions Jack Sock of the U.S. and Vasek Pospisil of Canada had a scare in their first-round match, but prevailed against Sam Groth of Australia and Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine, 5-7, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3), 6-1.
Sock and Pospisil are seeded third. Bob and Mike Bryan of Camarillo, who didn't play Monday, are seeded No. 1.