Wimbledon, England (SportsNetwork.com) – Playing her first tennis since capturing the French Open title four weeks ago, Serena Williams was an easy opening-round winner Monday at Wimbledon. Fellow former Wimbledon champs Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams joined Serena in the round of 64.
After falling behind 1-3 in the first set on Day 1, the world No. 1 great Serena responded by winning 11 of the next 13 games in a 6-4, 6-1 victory over little-known Russian Margarita Gasparyan at the venerable All England Club.
The reigning French, Aussie and U.S. Open champion Serena is seeking a sixth Wimbledon title and her first since 2012. The American is also a two-time runner-up at the AEC.
“It feels good so far. Just one match but it feels good just to be back here at Wimbledon. I’ve done so well here in the past so I’ll always have so many good memories here,” said the 33-year-old Serena after her 73rd Wimbledon match win.
Her second-round opponent will be Hungarian Timea Babos.
Meanwhile, the fourth-seeded former world No. 1 Sharapova eased past Britain’s Johanna Konta 6-2, 6-2.
Sharapova stunned Serena in the 2004 Wimbledon final and was the 2011 runner-up to Petra Kvitova.
The five-time major champion Sharapova will face Dutchwoman Richel Hogenkamp on Wednesday.
Serena’s 16th-seeded big sister, Venus, moved on by double-bageling fellow American Madison Brengle 6-0, 6-0.
The former world No. 1 Venus is a five-time Wimbledon champ and three-time runner-up.
In some other top-10 action, sixth-seeded French Open runner-up Lucie Safarova overcame American Alison Riske 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, seventh-seeded former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic drubbed Chinese Xu Yi-Fan 6-1, 6-1 and Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko stunned ninth-seeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-0.
Eleventh-seeded Czech slugger Karolina Pliskova held off American Irina Falconi 6-4, 4-6, 6-1; 14th-seeded German Andrea Petkovic double-bageled American Shelby Rogers 6-0, 6-0; 19th-seeded former French Open runner-up Sara Errani snuck past former French Open champ and fellow Italian Francesca Schiavone 6-2, 5-7, 6-1; 22nd-seeded former U.S. Open titlist Samantha Stosur topped Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic 6-4, 6-4; and 23rd-seeded former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka drilled Estonian Anett Kontaveit 6-2, 6-1.
Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas dismissed 24th-seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, while improving American Sloane Stephens upended 27th-seeded Czech Barbora Strycova 6-4, 6-2 and 29th-seeded Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu bested Russian Daria Gavrilova 7-6 (8-6), 6-1.
Several other women advanced, including Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Lauren Davis and Coco Vandeweghe.
On Tuesday, some more first-round action will see a second-seeded Kvitova take on Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens, third-seeded former French Open runner-up Simona Halep meet Slovak Jana Cepelova, fifth-seeded U.S. Open runner-up and former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki tangle with Chinese Zheng Saisai, and a 12th-seeded Bouchard locking horns with Chinese Duan Ying- Ying.
Kvitova captured her second Wimbledon title in four years by beating Canada’s Bouchard in last year’s lopsided finale.
The 2015 Wimbledon champ will collect $2.9 million.