As first-round encounters go, this is one Serena Williams will be glad to have behind her.
In a match short on quality, the former world No 1 and seven-time Wimbledon champion beat Giulia Gatto-Monticone 6-2 7-5 to progress here at the All England Club.
The opening game of the first set seemingly set the standard, with Williams firing down a total of seven lets as she struggled to make serve. She may have eventually found her rhythm to take the game, but it was a sign of things to come.
Indeed, both players lacked any form of consistency on their service and were guilty of throwing away shots on the forehand.
It was telling that Williams quickly rushed to 5-0 in the first set – her winners proving the difference – but the Italian managed to hold her serve to finally take a game. It was to make little difference, though.
After trading breaks, Williams sealed the first set with a forehand winner into space that suggested the American was emerging from her initial lull.
The second set saw an improvement in the quality on offer, with Gatto-Monticone catching the eye at one point with a last-ditch pick-up and Williams asserting her authority with a fierce overhead smash at the net.
The Italian showed some resistance to break Williams at 5-3, before holding her serve, but she was ultimately unable to stave off the inevitable.
After securing match point with another overhead smash – letting out a roar of delight as she did so – the American finished on a flourish at the net, sending an angled winner beyond her opponent following a quick fire, close-range exchange. It was a memorable finish to an otherwise forgettable match.
Williams was joined in the second round by Britain’s Johnna Konta, who battled past Romanian qualifier Ana Bogdan with a 7-5 6-2 victory on Court One.
It was attack against defence, with Konta hitting substantially more winners – 27 to nine in the match – but also more errors.
However, she took her chance when it came in the 12th game to win the opening set and then broke serve twice more in the second.
There was mixed fortunes for her fellow Britons. After two hours and 19 minutes, Harriet Dart battled to a 4-6 6-4 6-4 victory against Christina McHale but there was to be no such smiles for Katie Swan. The 20-year-old became the first British casualty in the women's draw after losing 6-2 6-4 to Laura Siegemund.
Sixth seed Kvitova, who won the title in 2011 and 2014, beat Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur 6-4 6-2 while Kerber, the reigning champion here at Wimbledon, eased to a 6-4 6-3 win over compatriot Tatjana Maria.
“I was really nervous, to be honest, because of course going out there as the defending champion, it was really special,” Kerber said afterwards. "Walking on the Centre Court, playing there again, I mean, a lot of emotions, a lot of memories.”
World No 1 Ashleigh Barty made light work of Saisai Zheng, winning 6-4 6-2 victory, to get her Wimbledon campaign off to an encouraging start.
The Australian, who won this year's French Open, has fond memories of the All England Club after winning the girls' singles title in 2011. She is one of the favourites to make it back-to-back grand slams here and laid down an early marker on Court One.
Former champion Maria Sharapova went out in the first round after she was forced to quit her match against France's Pauline Parmentier due to an injury. The Russian trailed 4-6 7-6(4) 5-0 before she conceded the contest.
Spaniard Muguruza, champion two years ago, was knocked out 6-4 6-4 by Brazilian qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia. The 26th seed looked a shadow of the powerful player who beat Venus Williams to claim the title as she was outplayed by her 121st-ranked opponent.
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