Serena beats Molik in straight sets; top seed Henin wins

Updated: June 27, 2007, 7:15 PM ET
Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England -- After another slow start, Serena Williams got her grass-court game back on track.

The two-time champion rallied from 4-1 down in the first set and beat Australia's Alicia Molik 7-6 (4), 6-3 on Wednesday to reach the third round of Wimbledon on another day of rain delays at the All England Club.

"I just got really angry," Williams said. "I thought it was unfair that I got down so far. I was like, OK, it's just one break. But 4-1 looks worse than one break."

Williams, who also struggled in the first set of her opening-round win Monday over Lourdes Dominguez Lino, fell behind again early against Molik in windy conditions on Court 1. But she finally got her power game going and finished with 10 aces and 35 winners to 18 errors.

"I'm playing OK," said Williams, who rated her performance six out of 10, compared to two out of 10 for the first round. "I actually don't think I'm playing that great, no."

Williams, who was affected by a tight hamstring in her first match, said she experienced no problems Wednesday.

"Not at all," she said. "Not today. I was feeling better. Don't jinx me."

Williams showed lots of emotion during the match as her sister, Venus, and parents watched from the stands.

"The angry Serena is very crazy to say the least," she said. "Sometimes she comes out."

The turning point came in the tiebreak with Molik leading 4-2. The Australian made groundstroke errors on the next four points and Williams pounded a 121 mph ace down the middle to close out the set -- punctuated by a fist pump and scream of "Come on!"

The match ended in bizarre circumstances on Williams' third match point in the final game. A line judge called Molik's shot wide, but the two continued playing until Williams hit a winning forehand volley.

The players approached the net to congratulate each other, but Molik was allowed to challenge the line judge's call. The new "Hawk-Eye" replay system showed the ball was out. The two smiled, and Williams saluted the crowd.

Williams' father thought chair umpire Sandra de Jenken overstepped her authority by reminding his daughter's opponent that a questionable call could be challenged under the replay system making its All England Club debut this year.

"There's a lot of strange things that have happened to us," Richard Williams said. "That was horrendous. To be honest with you, it makes you think that that particular referee -- not all of them -- should be persona non grata."

Williams said she didn't mind that Molik contested the call.

"I told her, 'You may as well. I would have challenged it, too. I'm not upset. I'm not going to hold it against you,'" Williams said. "She was like, 'OK.'"

A similar incident occurred at the end of Justine Henin's victory. Serving for the match, Henin saved a break point and then produced two straight aces to finish the contest. Dushevina challenged the call on the final ace, but the replay showed the ball was on the line.

Top-seeded Henin took one hour to oust Vera Dushevina of Russia 6-0, 6-4 on Centre Court to make the third round in her bid for the only Grand Slam title to elude her.

"I hope I can make it here one day," said Henin, a two-time losing finalist at Wimbledon. "I hope I will have another chance and be at my best level. It's a good motivation for me."

Henin played with a long strip of black tape on her right shin. She said she has been bothered by tendinitis in her right foot but that it hasn't affected her game.

Play was interrupted by rain for 45 minutes early in the day and suspended again in late afternoon by heavier showers.

In other women's play, French Open runner-up and No. 6-seeded Ana Ivanovic beat Melinda Czink of Hungary 6-0, 7-6 (3) in a first-round match.

Also reaching the second round were No. 12 Elena Dementieva, No. 14 Nicole Vaidisova and No. 17 Tatiana Golovin. Ninth-seeded Martina Hingis, the 1997 champion, defeated Aiko Nakamura of Japan 6-1, 6-2 to reach the third round.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press