Wimbledon Viewer's Guide

Updated: June 23, 2004, 8:32 AM ET
By Cynthia Faulkner | ESPN.com

WIMBLEDON, England -- All eyes were on the Williams sisters, who hold the past four titles here, to see how well they did in their first-round matches. They frequently start a major tournament looking a little rusty and sometimes display some unusual moves as if it were practice rather than competition. Serena kept to the status quo.

Normally a baseliner, Serena said she wanted to come to net often and that's why she made 24 unforced errors in her 6-3, 6-1 victory Tuesday.

"I'm working on different things, and I think it's important to get that in the first round as opposed to try to work on them in the quarterfinals and semifinals," Serena explained. "Then you'll find yourself under too much pressure and making too many mistakes."

Sister Venus didn't have that problem the day before. She won 6-3, 6-0 and made only 11 unforced errors.

She'll need to be playing strong early to face Croatian Karolina Sprem today - provided the rain doesn't wash the match out. Sprem, 19, reached the semifinals in Berlin earlier this year where she played Venus. Sprem, ranked 30th in the world, won the first set and was up 3-0 in the third before Venus rallied to win 6-4.

At 6-foot-1 Venus has the wingspan to blanket the net. She won six of seven points at the net in her opening round. Venus was questioned about why she doesn't go to the net more with an 86-percent success rate.

"I think I was just trained as a baseliner, an aggressive player, of course, all-court game," said Venus, who is scheduled to play the day's last match Wednesday, weather permitting. "The baseline is pretty much where I like to be."

It's not where Martina Navratilova, also scheduled to play second-round singles today, likes to be. Navratilova says players have to make the commitment to volley all year long to be successful - not just during the grass-court season.

"You have to practice it in order to be able to do it in a match," Navratilova, 47, said after winning her first singles match at Wimbledon in 10 years, losing only one game. "They're a bunch of (players) that can do it, they just don't trust it."

Navratilova says grass-courts felt like home the first time she played on them; not so clay. Navratilova has a rematch with Gisela Dulko, who made Navratilova look her age at the French Open on the slow clay. Navratilova said then things would be different on grass.

"I'll be ready," said Navratilova, who scouted her first-round opponent because she'd never seen the younger "girl" play before.

Rain gauge The weather is becoming a major factor in the first week. Navratilova and Venus might not take the court at all today because their matches are last on their respective courts.

More likely to finish are Andy Roddick and Guillermo Coria, who are both trying to finish up first-round matches. Roddick only played six games but leads Yeu-Tzuoo "Jimmy" Wang 4-2. Coria will be playing for a third day in a row. He was only two points from closing out the match when rain-slickened grass forced a nasty fall. Coria got up favoring a groin muscle, and the match was suspended for safety reasons.

Others are in the same leaky boat. Taylor Dent is a game away from winning in straight sets. Tommy Haas leads Antony Dupuis two sets to one, while Rainer Schuettler split the opening sets with Robin Soderling.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Capriati hasn't even begun her tournament yet. She's set to play the third match of the day on Court 1. With a 90 percent chance for "blustery showers," it seems unlikely she'll get to start until Thursday.

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