Serena Williams overcame a spirited effort from Aravane Rezai to reach the second round of Wimbledon with a 6-3 3-6 6-1 win. The defending champion, who only recently returned to the court after almost a year on the sidelines, was not in top form but eventually overpowered her unseeded opponent. Williams took control early on in the match before Rezai surged back into contention with some brilliant strokes in the second set. However, the 13-time grand slam winner came through when it mattered before leaving in tears after being overcome by the emotion of her return to Centre Court.
Williams made a sluggish start in the opening game of the match, eventually being broken after a marathon battle that involved several deuces. Rezai consolidated the break in the next game, but Williams eventually got on the board before levelling matters by breaking to love. Williams then broke again in the sixth game as her power began to take its toll on the French player, although Rezai did halt a five-game losing slide by holding serve in the eighth game. The four-time champion served out the set at the first opportunity, however, and seemed set to go on and complete a routine win.
But Rezai stared the second set with renewed confidence, delivering her serves with greater authority and matching her opponent stroke-for-stroke. She had Williams in trouble on her serve in the fourth game after two quick points, but the American managed to dig herself out of trouble. The break game in the sixth game, however, with Williams double-faulting at a costly point to gift Rezai the advantage. A confident Rezai hardly put a foot wrong for the rest of the set, with the seventh seed fading away and making another error on set point to take the match into a decider. Rezai could not maintain her charge in the third set though, with Williams eventually pulling away to win with ease.