Wimbledon: Djokovic makes solid start to title defence; Venus advances

Serbia's Novak Djokovic plays a backhand shot during his Wimbledon first round match against England's James Ward at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London on Monday
Serbia's Novak Djokovic plays a backhand shot during his Wimbledon first round match against England's James Ward at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London on Monday.
 It was not quite the triple bagel that Novak Djokovic was aiming for during the opening 41 minutes of his first-round match but the Serbian is unlikely to be too disappointed after he beat Britain's James Ward 6-0, 7-6(3), 6-4 at Wimbledon on Monday.
The holder of all four grand slam titles appeared to be hurtling towards his 29th successive win at a major when he opened his Wimbledon defence by jumping out to a 6-0 3-0 lead.
 James Ward applauds supporters following his defeat against Novak Djokovic James Ward applauds supporters following his defeat against Novak Djokovic.
 But Ward, the son of a London black cab driver, did not want to make a quick getaway on his Centre Court debut and held both arms aloft after finally getting a game against his name on the scoreboard.
The 177th-ranked wildcard went on a roll as he won three games on the trot but despite his fightback, he simply did not have enough weapons to stop Djokovic from setting up a second- round showdown with Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
Venus vaults Vekic at Wimbledon
USA's Venus Williams plays a forehand shot shot during her first round match against Croatia's Donna Vekic
USA's Venus Williams plays a forehand shot shot during her first round match against Croatia's Donna Vekic.
 As she has done for most of the past 18 summers, Venus Williams on Monday took a large, languid stride into the second round of Wimbledon.
The oldest woman in the main singles draw, five-times champion Williams was at times sublime as she beat Croatian Donna Vekic 7-6(3), 6-4 on a sunny Court One.
While the full Williams armoury had been on display, it was her mental strength which stood out -- perhaps no surprise given she is playing her 71st grand slam singles tournament, a record among current female players.
Vekic produced startling groundstrokes at times, but eighth seed Williams maintained her composure, increasing the pressure when things got tight as her opponent wilted in the spotlight.
There cannot be too many grand slam years left for Williams, who celebrated her 36th birthday this month, but she showed more than enough on Day One to suggest she could again go deep in her favourite major.

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