Wimbledon: Coco Gauff and Venus Williams both knocked out on day one as Sofia Kenin and Elina Svitolina advance
Coco Gauff and Venus Williams were the big names knocked out on the opening day at Wimbledon on Monday.
Gauff was the seventh seed but lost to fellow American Sofia Kenin 6-4 4-6 6-2 in a tough contest on Court No 1.
It was a hugely satisfying result for Kenin, who won the Australian Open in 2020, but has struggled since. This was her first win in a grand slam match since 2021.
Kenin had to come through qualifying just to be in this tournament but she was able to out-hit her powerful opponent.
An early break saw Kenin take the first set as she soaked up Gauff’s power and delivered some fine shots of her own.
Gauff, playing on the court where she famously beat Venus Williams four years ago, hit back and crucially broke at 5-4 in the second set.
But she wasn’t able to kick on from there and win the deciding set. Kenin in fact took an early break in the third and then crucially added a second at 4-2.
She served out the match to claim a memorable victory and the place in the second round.
Kenin said: “I am just super happy, Coco afterwards played a tough match, I knew I needed to play my best to win.
“This means a lot, I had to go through qualies, I battled out there. I took this as just another match. I know Coco has had a great year so I am just super proud of myself.”
Gauff reflected: “I knew coming in she would play with a lot of motivation. It was all about how I would play today and how I would take care of my end of the court. I did in certain moments, but obviously not enough.
“Right now I’m very frustrated and disappointed,” she added. “It makes me want to work even harder. I feel like I’ve been working hard, but clearly it’s not enough.
“I have to go back to the drawing board.”
Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina Wimbledon legend Venus Williams to advance to the second round.
Williams started brightly, breaking early as she won the first two games in the first set. But then slipped on the grass and suffered a painful injury. The American, whose right knee had been heavily strapped before the match had started, took a medical timeout, but was able to continue playing against the Ukrainian.
Williams battled on but ultimately Svitolina took over, winning in straight sets, 6-4 6-2.
The 43-year-old had to admit afterwards that she was in so much pain she could not focus on the match.
“Grass is inherently going to be slippery. You’re going to fall at some point. It was just bad luck for me,” she said.
“I started the match perfectly. I was literally killing it, then I got killed by the grass.
“It’s not fun right now. I felt like I was in great form coming into this tournament, and great form in the match.
“It’s all very shocking at the moment. This is sports. I’m hitting the ball well.
“Hopefully I can just figure out what’s happening with me and move forward.
“I think what makes this one hard to process is I’ve had so many injuries. I’ve been missing from tour for quite a while. This is not what I want for myself.
“This kind of fall, I didn’t do anything wrong. I just went for the ball. There’s nothing I can really do about it.
“Those kinds of things are hard to process emotionally, mentally and physically on the court.
“I just couldn’t figure it out today. It was just really challenging. I’ve played through a lot of injuries and won a lot of matches injured.
“It’s almost a specialty of mine. I just couldn’t figure it out today.”
Ukraine’s Svitolina became a mother last October but is already back to playing at high level.
Svitolina was awarded a wild card to compete at Wimbledon, as was Williams, who has played little this year.
Even Svitolina feared the worst when Williams fell.
“She screamed really loud, I was shaken up,” she said. “I was really shocked in a way, because I thought it was really, really serious,” the Ukrainian said.
“So I was really happy for her actually that she could stand up after and didn’t take a medical timeout. She just was checking how the knee is. And then we continue playing.
“I was really happy because it’s such a horrible injury, the knee injury. Any injury is bad, but, you know, she screamed really loud. So I really got scared.”
Iga Swiatek did not take long to get her Wimbledon campaign off to a winning start as she easily disposed of Zhu Lin.
The world No 1 is looking to add to the French Open and US Open titles she has won in the last 10 months and made a convincing opening on Court No 1, winning 6-1 6-3.
The Pole does not have the best pedigree at SW19, having never made it past the fourth round, but signs are positive that this will be the year she has a proper crack at winning the title.
Chinese Zhu – ranked 34th in the world – was no match for her, with a routine victory only slightly delayed by a rain shower that saw the roof on the court closed.
Fourth seed Jessica Pegula also made it through to the second round, but she was made to work hard against her fellow American Lauren Davis.
After comfortably winning the opener, Pegula was pegged back as it went to a decider only for her to regain control and seal a 6-2 6-7 (8-10) 6-3 victory.
Two-time US Open champion Victoria Azarenka also needed three sets to beat Yuan Yue 6-4 5-7 6-4.
Russian Liudmila Samsonova did not have the best return to Wimbledon as the 15th seed went out 7-6 (7-1) 7-6 (7-4) to Ana Bogdan.