It's Pova over Nova, but Venus exits
World No 1 Maria Sharapova warned her Wimbledon rivals that she has no intention of resting on her laurels after sweeping into the second round with a straight sets victory on Monday.
Sharapova was playing for the first time since her French Open final victory over Sara Errani earlier this month and the Russian's confidence was clearly sky high as she downed Australia's Anastasia Rodionova 6-2, 6-3 in just 70 minutes.
The 25-year-old will face Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova, who reached the semifinals in 2010, in the round of 64.
Sharapova's triumph in Paris was a magical moment as it completed a career grand slam and capped her recovery from serious shoulder surgery that, at one stage, looked capable of wrecking her career.
But Sharapova, who won Wimbledon as a 17-year-old, still has unfinished business at the All England Club after losing last year's final to Petra Kvitova.
Top seed Sharapova, who was back on Centre Court for the first time since then, is determined to ensure there are no regrets when she leaves Wimbledon this year.
"I'll have the French Open for the rest of my life and it's something that I can think back on and know that I was part of the Roland Garros history, but this sport puts you back to reality so fast," Sharapova said.
"Within days you're back practicing, getting ready, and it starts from scratch, starts from the first round.
"So when you're a grand slam champion, you're No 1 in the world, everybody is more hungry across the net to beat you."
Sharapova has always been a ferocious competitor and her drive to improve hasn't faded now she is a grand slam winner once again.
"I'm still very humble and very appreciative of what I have. I still believe that I can achieve a lot more," she added.
"That's what gets me up in the morning, no matter how much success I've had, no matter how many downfalls, I still believe I can be better."
She had routed Rodionova without dropping a single set in her four previous meetings with the world number 133 and this clash followed a familiar pattern.
Sharapova broke in the second game and pushed home her advantage with another break to move 5-0 ahead in just 15 minutes.
Rodionova, 30, finally got on the scoreboard in a sixth game that lasted nearly as long as the first five and then secured a break of her own.
But it was far too late to prevent Sharapova closing out the set and she continued in equally dominant mood in the second set.
The Russian landed the crucial break in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead and eased through in confident fashion.
VENUS CRASHES TO 15-YEAR WIMBLEDON LOW
Five-time champion Venus Williams, meanwhile, suffered her worst Wimbledon defeat in 15 years, slumping to a first round exit at the hands of Russia's Elena Vesnina, but defiantly insisted she will not quit.
Williams lost 6-1, 6-3 to the 79th-ranked Russian in what was the 32-year-old's first opening round loss at the All England Club since her 1997 debut.
But the former world No 1 -- the champion in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008 -- believes she can still compete at the top level despite her ranking having slipped to 58 after a six-month absence fighting serious illness.
"There's no way I will give up just because I have had a hard time in the first four or five friggin' tournaments back. That's not me," said a fiesty Williams at a post-match news conference.
When asked if she will play at Wimbledon in 2013, she was adamant.
"Sure," she said. "I feel like I am a great player who has had to deal with exceptional circumstances.
"I don't have time to feel negative. It doesn't feel good. I am as tough as nails, I don't have time to be sorry for myself.
"I can keep going for a while. You will see me playing here again next year."
The American star arrived at Wimbledon, where she was unseeded for the first time since her 1997 debut, short of confidence having been sidelined with Sjogern's Syndrome, a disease which causes joint pain and fatigue.
Monday's defeat was just her fourth loss at the first round stage of a Grand Slam against 52 wins.
After pulling out of the 2011 US Open, she only returned at Miami in March when her ranking was 134.
That presented her with an immediate problem -- her ranking was too low to gain a place at the Olympics.
"I am proud of the efforts I made to get my ranking back up in time for the Olympics," she said.
"That was one of the toughest things I have ever done in my life. I came back early, but I can't say if I am paying for that now."
Since her return, Williams has reached three quarterfinals -- Miami, Charleston and Rome.
But she was a second round loser at the French Open where the impact of her efforts began to tell.
"I have lost before and I know how to deal with it," said Williams after Monday's 75-minute defeat out on Court Two.
"I came in with a positive attitude and wanted to do my best. Life is challenging but I am up for a challenge."
Vesnina, who had lost in the first round of nine of her last 10 Grand Slam appearances, will face Polish third seed Agnieszka Radwanska for a place in the last 32.
"It's one of the biggest wins of my career," said the 25-year-old Russian. "I guess it wasn't her best day, but it's one of my best."
Vesnina, who made the fourth round in 2009, said that the American had been an inspiration in her career.
"I remember when she beat Lindsay Davenport in the 2005 final. I was playing a qualifier on clay in a $25 000 event in Italy and I watched it on the TV. It was then that I started to dream about also being at Wimbledon.
"She's a great athlete, a great champion and has a great attitude."
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LI, STOSUR CRUISE THROUGH
US Open champion Samantha Stosur and ex-French Open winner Li Na also reached the second round.
Stosur, the fifth-seeded Australian, had the honour of being the first woman into the last 64, cruising past Spain's 40th-ranked Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-3.
The 28-year-old Stosur, who was a semifinalist at the French Open earlier this month, has never got beyond the third round at the All England Club and had been beaten in the first round in 2010 and 2011.
Her win earned her a second round match with either Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands or Japanese lucky loser Misaki Doi.
Chinese 11th seed Li Na, the 2011 French Open winner, enjoyed an emphatic 6-3, 6-1 victory over Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan.
Li had beaten Pervak by the same score at the same stage of the Australian Open.
After a frustrating claycourt campaign, which included a disappointing fourth round defeat at the French Open, Li looked at home on the grass, brushing aside the 21-year-old in little more than an hour.
Li, knocked out in the second round by big-serving German Sabine Lisicki 12 months ago, set up a second round meeting with Romania's Sorana Cirstea.
CLIJSTERS TARGETS BIG GUNS
Kim Clijsters, playing her final Wimbledon before retirement, said she believes she can knock out the top seeds despite having gone through 14 months of injury hell.
The unseeded Belgian, a four-time Grand Slam winner and a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2003, beat Serbian 18th seed Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 6-4 in one of the big clashes of the first round.
Clijsters, a former world No 1, had come into the tournament under an injury cloud.
A stomach strain had caused the 29-year-old to pull out of her 's-Hertogenbosch semifinal at the weekend in what was her first event since March.
But the world number 47, who will retire for a second and final time after the US Open, was untroubled against the error-plagued, former world No 1 Jankovic who lost in the first round for a second successive year.
"If I'm healthy and I'm playing my best tennis I believe that I can beat a lot of the top players here, but it's a matter of trying to achieve that every match," Clijsters said.
The last 14 months have been an unhappy time on the court for Clijsters, with injuries repeatedly halting her progress.
"There were definitely moments where it was hard and where I thought, should I retire now? Maybe my body is saying it's enough and this second career has been good and maybe I should just accept that," she said.
"But then again after a couple days I felt like, no, I want to do the rehab and refocus.
"Unfortunately, when one injury got better, another popped up
"I've played some of my best tennis in the last year and a half or so. That's unfortunate, because I haven't been able to show that in tournaments."
She said knowing that she will retire within months means she is taking the chance to soak up the Wimbledon experience for a final time.
"This is definitely going to be it, so I take everything in. Whether I'm practicing on one of the practice courts out here, I look around and I take it in. So it's more emotional, definitely," she said.
"I have a lot of nostalgic emotions and feelings. When I get off at the train station and I go to Wimbledon, it's a very special, special place for me."
Clijsters said she will have an ultrasound scan every two days during Wimbledon to check that her muscle tear is not getting worse.
She will face Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic for a place in the round of 32.