LONDON (AP) — Back in her comfort zone on Wimbledon's Centre Court, Serena Williams delivered a statement that no one can argue with: When her powerful serve is clicking, she's still the woman to beat at the All England Club.
Putting aside her recent comments that led to apologies and a brief spat with Maria Sharapova, Williams looked every bit the five-time champion as she began her Wimbledon title defense with a routine 6-1, 6-3 victory over Mandy Minella of Luxembourg.
Williams put the focus firmly back on tennis following the recent verbal jousting with Sharapova about their private lives and comments about a high-profile rape case.
As usual on grass, the top-ranked Williams dominated with her hard serve, winning the first set without dropping a single point on her service game. Her serve let her down only at the start of the second set, when Minella was able to take a 2-0 lead when Williams double-faulted on break point.
She was one point from trailing 3-0 but won 15 of the next 18 points to take a 4-2 lead, and broke again to wrap up the win.
"For me, it's the greatest moment for a tennis player, to walk out on Centre Court," Williams said after her first match at Wimbledon since winning Olympic gold here last year. "That was such a great moment, too. So many great memories on this court."
Williams improved her career record to 68-8 at the All England Club and extended her career-best winning streak to 32 matches, which included her second French Open title.
"I don't think about it," Williams said about her streak. "Every single time I step out on the court it's a new match."
Also Tuesday, 42-year-old Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm cruised past German teenager Carina Witthoeft — who is less than half her age — 6-0, 6-2 in just 44 minutes.
Date-Krumm is the second oldest player to have won a match at Wimbledon after Martina Navratilova, who was 47 when she reached the second round in 2004. The 18-year-old Witthoeft was making her Grand Slam debut.
Sixth-seeded Li Na of China reached the second round, routing Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-1.
Later on Centre Court, top-ranked Novak Djokovic will face last year's quarterfinal opponent Florian Mayer of Germany, a day after Rafael Nadal's stunning first-round exit.