Sharapova puts Serena spat behind her to battle to win in Wimbledon opener
CNN News Wire | 6/24/2013, 5:33 p.m.
Maria Sharapova only wanted to talk tennis after coming through a testing opening match at Wimbledon Monday against promising young French player Kristina Mladenovic.
The Russian’s pre-tournament spat with Serena Williams dominated the buildup to the grass court grand slam, but she did not want to add further fuel to the flames.
“I’ve said everything that I wanted to say about the issue. Wimbledon started. This is my work. This is my job. I’d really appreciate it if we move on,” she told gathered reporters.
“Our job is to go out on the court and work and try to win matches and nothing else. That’s the most important thing to me in my life right now.”
Third seed Sharapova had been forced to give all her attention to her Centre Court clash with Mladenovic, taken to a close first set tiebreak.
Mladenovic, the 2009 Girls Champion at Wimbledon, continued to impress, but a single break for 2004 champion Sharapova saw her into the second round.
She will play Michelle Larcher de Brit after the Portuguese beat Melanie Oudin of the United States.
Second seed Victoria Azarenka, the winner of the Australian Open, beat another Portuguese player, Maria Joao Koehler, 6-1, 6-2.
But the 23-year-old Belarusian suffered a worrying injury scare in the second set, collapsing to the grass in agony while serving as her right leg gave away.
The match was delayed for over 10 minutes while she had it strapped, but she recovered to earn a clash with Italian Flavia Pennetta.
But Pennetta’s compatriot and fifth seed Sara Errani exited with a 6-3, 6-2 defeat to Puerto Rican teenager Monica Puig.
2011 champion Czech Petra Kvitova was extended by American Coco Vandeweghe, dropping the second set on the way to a far from routine 6-1 5-7 6-4 victory.
Top seed and defending champion Williams gets her campaign underway Tuesday — first match on Centre Court against Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella.