Tennis: Venus and Serena Williams cruise through at Wimbledon

 

Serena and Venus Williams claimed straightforward victories in the Olympic tennis at Wimbledon today but world number one Victoria Azarenka was taken to three sets by Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu in her opening match.

The Belarusian briefly looked in trouble when she lost the second set and then went down an early break in the decider, but she promptly reeled off six games in a row to win 6-1 3-6 6-1 and next plays Spain's Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.

Azarenka had been held up by rain yesterday, and it was the same story for Venus Williams, who has been battling Sjogren's syndrome but made qualifying for the Olympics her top priority.

The 32-year-old has three gold medals to her name, two in doubles with sister Serena and one in singles from Sydney in 2000, and she rolled back the years with a superb 6-3 6-1 victory over ninth seed and French Open finalist Sara Errani from Italy.

Serena played her first-round match on Saturday and wasted no time reaching the third round today, seeing off Poland's Urszula Radwanska 6-2 6-3.

Radwanska is the sister of world number two Agnieszka, who was beaten by fourth seed Serena in the final of Wimbledon three weeks ago, but the Pole could not take revenge.

In the last 16, the American will meet 13th seed Vera Zvonareva, the bronze medallist from Beijing, after the Russian saw off Italy's Francesca Schiavone 6-3 6-3.

Back in the first round, there were also wins for Germany's Sabine Lisicki and Russians Nadia Petrova and Maria Kirilenko.

Venus Williams was in buoyant mood after her victory and will hope to take the same form into her second-round clash with Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak.

The American said: "It was really great. Grass is my surface and I felt great out there. It's never easy to draw a top seed. I'm unseeded here and now I feel like I'm the number nine seed, and hopefully I'll beat another seed and become their number.

"I fought so much to be here. I know there's a lot of people happy to be here, but I'm not only happy to be here I want to do something about it too and play well for my country.

"Another gold medal would be amazing. I can't even imagine the feeling, I think my head would be too big and no one would even like me anymore. I've got to get there first. I have two chances and I'll go for it."

Serena is looking for her first singles gold medal and, were she to achieve it, she would be only the second woman, after Steffi Graf, to have won all four grand slam titles and an Olympic gold in her career.

The 30-year-old has been making sure she follows the rest of the action at the Olympics, and she said: "When I'm not playing I have the TV on watching the swimming, gymnastics. It's so intense and I love every moment."

Azarenka was pleased finally to begin her campaign and admitted to nerves as she carries Belarusian hopes in the women's singles.

"It was a long wait for me," she said. "I was playing yesterday but it got cancelled.

"Your first match on Centre Court, there are always nerves, and today I couldn't get into the match in the second set. There were too many mistakes, but I'm glad I could turn things around and finish as strong as I started.

"I get more nervous when I play for my country than when I play for myself. Hopefully the next round will be much easier."

Wimbledon semi-finalist Angelique Kerber was an easy winner, the German seventh seed leading Petra Cetkovska 6-1 3-0 when her opponent retired.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable