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Serena Williams shrugs off pressure as she kicks off Wimbledon glory bid

By Eleanor Crooks

Defending Wimbledon champion Serena Williams has insisted she is not burdened by the pressure of chasing a 22nd grand slam title to emulate Steffi Graf.

Williams swept past Amra Sadikovic 6-2 6-4 at Wimbledon, to book a second-round clash with fellow American Christina McHale.

The 34-year-old has stalled on 21 major titles since claiming her sixth crown at SW19 last year, but remains bullish about her chances of drawing level with Graf's open-era record.

"I think more or less about winning Australia, I think about winning the French Open; didn't happen," said Williams.

"I think about winning Wimbledon. I don't necessarily think about winning 22.

"Mentally I've been further down than anyone can be. Well, maybe not anyone, but I've been pretty low.

"There's nothing that's mentally too hard for me."

The top seed then rejected any notion of struggling under the weight of expectation or grand slam pressure in that continued bid to catch Graf.

"Obviously it means a lot to me, probably means more to me than to anyone, anyone," said Williams, talking about her determination to continue winning major titles. It's definitely something you just have to deal with.

"It's coming to a way that you deal with it. It's 'how are you going to deal with it'?

"For me it's dealing with it the best that I can."

Svetlana Kuznetsova got a late birthday present under Wimbledon's centre court roof with a 7-5 6-4 win over former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, who is projected to drop out of the top 50 with the defeat.

The veteran 13th seed's power undid the Dane, who had been seeking her first win at a grand slam this year after being dumped out of the Australian Open in the first round and missing Roland Garros due to injury.

The WTA women's tour said the 25-year-old, rated the best in the world in 2010 and 2011, could drop as low as 59, depending on other results, when the new rankings are released the day after the men's final.

Coming into the tournament ranked 45 after injuries to her ankle, knee and wrist, it was the first time Wozniacki, 25, had been unseeded at a major since the 2008 Australian Open and she was visibly gloomy after the match.

"It kind of just sucks right now to be out of the tournament. Yeah, there's not really much else to say," she said. "It's been a tough year in general."

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