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Roger Federer, Serena Williams breeze through first round at Wimbledon

AFP-JIJI

Eight-time champion Roger Federer and seven-time winner Serena Williams shrugged off 30-C heat to breeze into the second round at Wimbledon on Monday.

Federer, the defending champion and seeking a 21st major, marked the start of his 20th successive Wimbledon with a new look and a comfortable 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 win over Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic.

Williams, like Federer, is 36 but chasing a 24th Slam title, enjoyed a hard-fought 7-5, 6-3 victory over the Netherlands’ Arantxa Rus.

It was the American’s first match at the All England Club since lifting the 2016 title.

She missed the 2017 edition as she prepared for the birth of her first child.

Top seed Federer marched out on Centre Court dressed for the first time in gear designed by Uniqlo in a deal reported to be worth $300 million after a two-decade association with Nike.

But everything else was familiar for the Swiss star who cruised past world No. 57 Lajovic in just 79 minutes.

It was the second successive year that Federer had knocked out the Serb at Wimbledon.

“I’m very happy, I felt good from the start too which was nice and that was not the case last year against him. I remember I struggled early on a lot,” said Federer.

After just 20 minutes to complete the first set, Federer went on to fire 35 winners past Lajovic, breaking serve five times, setting up a second-round encounter against Lukas Lacko of Slovakia.

Out on Court One, Serena, seeded 25 this year despite a ranking of 181, had too much power for Rus, the world No. 107.

Williams, looking to move within one title of Martina Navratilova’s Open era record of nine Wimbledon titles, fired 23 winners past Rus.

Victory was sealed on a fifth match point and next faces Bulgarian qualifier Viktoriya Tomova.

“I don’t know if I’m relieved, more motivated, but I am happy to get through that,” said Williams, whose return to Slam tennis after pregnancy at Roland Garros last month ended in a fourth-round injury withdrawal.

U.S. Open champion and fourth seed Sloane Stephens became the tournament’s first big name casualty when she slumped to a 6-1, 6-3 loss to Croatia’s world No. 55 Donna Vekic.

Bulgarian sixth seed Grigor Dimitrov was stunned by three-time Slam winner Stan Wawrinka 1-6, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4.

Third seed and 2017 runner-up Marin Cilic enjoyed a 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 win over Yoshihito Nishioka.