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Wimbledon: Serena Williams struggles to a win, then vents frustration with where it took place

Serena Williams overcomes Romanian Simona Halep 3-6, 6-2, 6-1. Afterward, the defending champion expresses displeasure over her placement in Court 2 by tournament schedulers, rather than Centre or Court 1. 'I don't make it a big issue. I think at some point I should.'

June 23, 2011|By Diane Pucin
  • Serena Williams celebrates following her second-round victory over Simona Halep at Wimbledon on Thursday.
Serena Williams celebrates following her second-round victory over Simona… (Toby Melville / Reuters )

Reporting from Wimbledon, England — Serena Williams won her second-round match Thursday at Wimbledon against Simona Halep, and while the defending champ couldn't get a feel for the match, she had a feeling about where she played -- Court 2.

As the defending champion, a four-time Wimbledon champion and a 13-time major tournament winner, Williams expressed frustration Thursday with the tournament schedulers.

Serena's sister Venus, who has won here five times, played on Court 2 in her opening match Monday. Venus was circumspect about the assignment, saying she was just happy to play anywhere.

PHOTOS: Women of Wimbledon

But after Serena struggled to a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over 19-year-old Simona Halep on Thursday in the second round on Court 2, she voiced her displeasure.

"They like to put us on Court 2, me and Venus, for whatever reason," Serena said. "I haven't figured it out yet. Maybe one day we'll figure it out. I don't know."

Wimbledon schedulers generally put two men's matches and one women's match each on the largest courts, Centre and Court 1.

On Thursday, defending French Open champion Li Na was scheduled for Centre Court against Germany's Sabine Lisicki, and 2004 champion and fifth-seeded Maria Sharapova was scheduled for Court 1 against Britain's Laura Robson.

After her win over Halep, who had never played Wimbledon until this year, Serena was asked, "You and Venus almost look at it as an insult that you're not automatically put on Centre, Court 1 like [Novak] Djokovic, [Rafael] Nadal?"

"Yeah," Serena said. "They're never moved across. Actually Venus and I have won more Wimbledons together than a lot of the players. So at the end of the day, I don't know. They're not going to change, doesn't look like.

"I don't make it a big issue. I think at some point I should."

Whether it was her unhappiness at being on the outer court or just the unfamiliar opponent, Williams never got into the first set. She didn't even earn a break point.

But with the help of some fist pumping and maybe a few nerves from Halep, Williams recovered to win her second straight three-set match.

It took her 1 hour, 47 minutes. A year ago, when Williams won her fourth Wimbledon championship, she never lost a set. In two rounds this year, she's lost two

"It was a little windy out there," Williams said. "And I was just a little tight. I need to relax and enjoy myself more. I guess I just want to play longer matches because I can get more practice."

Williams missed 11 months after winning here last year because of foot injuries and a pulmonary embolism.

The 29-year-old, who is trying to become the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1991-93 to win three straight Wimbledon titles, turned the match around in the second game of the second set.

After Halep had raced to a 40-0 lead, seemingly baffling Williams again with her clever serving, the Romanian made an unforced backhand error, put in her first double fault and buried a backhand into the net to get Williams to deuce.

Williams earned her first break point of the match on a forehand error from Halep. The American couldn't convert that one but when she got a second break point, Williams dominated a rally with power until Halep tried to go for a dramatic winner but instead hit her crosscourt forehand into the net.

There was a loud "Come on" from Williams after that shot gave her a 2-0 lead in the second set. From there, Williams found her way to more and more winners.

Three former French Open champions were also among early winners: 18th-seeded Ana Ivanovic beat Greek veteran Eleni Daniilidou 6-3, 6-0; sixth-seeded Francesca Schiavone took out Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 7-5, 6-3; and 12th-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova had little trouble with another Romanian, Alexandra Dulgheru, winning 6-0, 6-2.

Young American Christina McHale, 19, did not do as well. The 73rd-ranked McHale lost to 80th-ranked Austrian Tamira Paszek 6-4, 6-1. That leaves only Serena and her 31-year-old sister Venus to represent the U.S. in the women's draw.

diane.pucin@latimes.com

twitter.com/mepucin

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