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Serena Williams handles the Wimbledon heat after a nervous start

By Kevin Garside

Published 30/06/2015

Nervous start: Serena Williams
Nervous start: Serena Williams

It's a big fortnight for Serena Williams. A sixth Wimbledon crown is on, as is that 21st Major singles title, a second 'Serena Slam' to match that of 13 years ago and even one of the calendar variety.

Only three women in the history of the game have won all four Grand Slams in the same year and she is one step closer after her 6-4 6-1 victory against Russian qualifier Margarita Gasparyan.

In the opening skirmishes, Williams gave the impression of being ordered to play at gun point, such was her apparent lack of enthusiasm. She surrendered her opening service, fell heavily in the sixth game and shortly afterwards was warned for uttering her first audible obscenity of the week.

It was not quite the start expected against a player ranked 134 in the world, without a win on the WTA Tour and making her debut at Wimbledon. Gasparyan, on the other hand, was full of it, firing off bullet-like, single-handed backhands down the line.

A lead of 3-1 was fully deserved, but by then the beast in Williams was slowly rising - as was the heat.

The barometer is expected to nudge 35 degrees this week, even higher in the stadium setting, but it was not a problem for Williams (pictured). As she heaved herself back into the game, the pressure began to tell on her opponent. Gasparyan's first serve became ever more errant and her second ripped back across the net to give Williams three games in a row.

Gasparyan rallied in the eighth game to briefly restore parity before Williams re-established the natural order of things to take the set. The second was more emphatic on the scoreboard but lasted longer than it should have.

Williams was forced to endure the indignity of a deuce point when serving out for a contest propped up by a steady flow of unforced errors off her racket.

"Playing in the first round has always been super nervous for me," Williams said. "She was just hitting a lot of winners. When the first set was over she actually hit more winners than I did. I'm usually quick to get to those shots. They were just so cleanly hit."

Asked about the importance of this event with all that might be achieved, Williams gave the "one match at a time" defence.

"I don't think about it, but every time I come into the press area you guys talk about it. It's definitely historic, but it's also six matches away and not guaranteed. I'm just going to enjoy holding three titles right now."

Meanwhile, Venus Williams joined her sister in the second round by winning 6-0 6-0 against fellow American Madison Brengle. The 35-year-old torched the hopes of an opponent 10 years her junior to achieve the rare 'double bagel'.

Johanna Konta's wait for a first-round victory at Wimbledon continues after the British hope was overwhelmed by fourth seed Maria Sharapova.

Russia's five-time Grand Slam winner dispatched Konta 6-2 6-2 to condemn her to a fourth successive defeat at SW19.

Britain's Naomi Broady was unable to complete a family double, losing out in straight sets to Mariana Duque-Marino.

Colombian Duque-Marino triumphed 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 to deny Broady siblings Naomi and Liam a one-two triumph after Liam toppled Marinko Matosevic in a five-set thriller.

Belfast Telegraph

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