LONDON—Pardon the maternal-inspired allusion, but the way it went was that Serena Williams labored through her first-round match at Wimbledon. Playing her first match here as a mother, amid blustery conditions on Court One, Williams earned a 7-5, 6-3 win over 105th-ranked Arantxa Rus that fell into the category of matches a player is glad to get through, parse out a few lessons and then shelve deep into the memory bank.
An inch short of six feet tall, Rus is a giraffe of a lefty, a stylistic understudy of sorts to Petra Kvitova, but lacking Kvitova’s prowess and sustainability. And that has made all the difference. Rus’ strokes are a series of staccato-like, sprayed slaps and cracks, her brand of disruption applied with the cold and the hot. Forceful drives will thunder, followed by seemingly implausible errors, be it long, wide or into the net. But when cornered, Rus can come up with remarkable shots, as if being on death row liberates her from the tyranny of awkward technique. All this makes her hardly the most comfortable first-round opponent, especially on grass, even more so on a windy day.
“I haven't played in wind in a really long time," said Williams. "So I'm just not used to that yet. It was really windy for me today. I just wasn't quite used to that level of wind. Something that I would normally be okay with, normally have, Oh, this is this. It's just getting all back to the hang of things, getting used to different circumstances.”
WATCH—Match point from Serena's win over Rus: