Defending champion Venus Williams eased into the second round at Wimbledon with a straight sets win over Swiss teenager Stefanie Voegel that represented a tougher workout than the 6-3, 6-2 scoreline suggested.
The American, who is seeking a sixth singles title at the All England Club, had her serve broken twice and had to spend an hour and 18 minutes on centre court to set up a second round meeting with Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko.
Voegele, who has only just broken into the world’s top 100, was making her first appearance at Wimbledon and was facing a top ten opponent for the first time in her fledgling career.
But she quickly demonstrated that she would not be overawed by the situation, a couple of big swings at the most effective serve in women’s tennis earning her a break point in the opening game of the match.
Williams responded with a 117mph service winner that underlined why she is the bookmakers’ favourite to win what would be her sixth singles title at the All England Club.
Voegele held serve confidently enough in her opening service game but the champion promptly produced a flurry of winners to help her reel off four games in a row to open up a 5-1 lead.
To her credit, Voegele rallied from that point and she was able to live with the champion until 2-2 in the second, at which point Williams found the additional gear she needed to close out her first competitive match on grass this year.
The 29-year-old admitted she had not quite been at her best but was delighted to be back on the court where she has enjoyed many of the finest moments of her career.
“It is the best place to be when you are a pro tennis player and I savour every blade of it,” she said. “I’ve had that crown for several years and I want to make it mine again.”