Wimbledon: Serena Williams and her aces move on

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Serena Williams didn’t lose a point if she got a first serve in, and she was good on 27 of those.

The defending women’s Wimbledon champion always plays the first match on Centre Court on Tuesday, and Williams took advantage of the set starting time and sunny day and produced the sort of power that kept her Portuguese opponent stymied.

Williams won 6-0, 6-4 in one hour, three minutes over Michelle Larcher de Brito, a 17-year-old who had gained some notoriety because the loudness of her grunts.

But Tuesday her hitting sounds were muted and not nearly as loud as the Williams serve, which produced 15 noisy aces.


The first set took 22 minutes, and Larcher de Brito barely moved toward some of Williams’ first serves, as if she was unaware of where the ball was landing, so quickly did it arrive.

Williams’ white dress was highlighted by dark pink swipes of color on the hem. Her shoelaces were the same deep pink, and Williams looked as if she might be dressed for a tea party. But her tennis was powerful enough to rattle the teacups displayed in the Royal Box.

In all, Williams hit 47 winners to six from Larcher de Brito. Larcher de Brito never earned even one break point, though she settled into the second set well enough to hold her own serve occasionally by using ground strokes to make Williams run more.

In the final game of the match, Williams offered the perfect summation of her game on this day: an ace for 15-0; a second serve in which Larcher de Brito made Williams play several ground strokes until the champion finally slipped. Williams got a forehand across the net from her knees, but it wasn’t good enough, and Larcher de Brito got the point for 15-15.

But then, in succession, Williams cracked a service winner for 30-15; a second-serve ace for 40-15 and then one more ace to finish it off. Williams shrieked at that final stroke. Her solemn game face finally broke into a smile.

-- Diane Pucin, in Wimbledon, England