Wimbledon 2013: Maria Sharapova battles past Kristina Mladenovic and dodges enquiries about her private life

 

Maria Sharapova had refuge from enquiries about her private life on Centre Court but the former Wimbledon champion was asked plenty of questions by her first-round opponent Kristina Mladenovic before edging through to round two.

Twenty-year-old French player Mladenovic put Sharapova under intense pressure in the opening set before the class of the world number three began to tell, resulting in a 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 victory for the Russian.

Mladenovic's parents moved from their Serbian home to Dunkirk in 1992, a year before their daughter was born, after father Dragan signed for the city's professional handball team.

Mother Dzenita was also a volleyball player and the sporting genes have been passed on to a daughter who has reached a career-high of 37th in the WTA world rankings.

On today's evidence Mladenovic should keep climbing, but Sharapova was able to steer clear of danger.

The 26-year-old, who made her Wimbledon debut 10 years ago and landed the title 12 months later, went on the offensive on Saturday after an article in Rolling Stone magazine quoted Serena Williams as making negative comments about a fellow high-ranked player.

Sharapova believes the comments were about her, and she returned fire by taking a swipe at Williams' love life. Williams, in turn, said yesterday that she believed clear-the-air talks between the pair at a party in London on Thursday had seen Sharapova accept her apology.

Sharapova said: "I'm pleased with this performance.

"The first matches on grass at Wimbledon are always really difficult and my opponent played extremely well. I'm really happy to be in the second round now.

"I knew my opponent was capable of playing really great tennis. She has such a big game and a big serve as well. I tried to take my opportunities in the tie-break because we didn't break each other in the first set and I was happy with the way I stepped it up in the second.

"It was still pretty tough in the end but I'm glad I got it done in two today."

PA

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