Sloane Stephens became Wimbledon’s first big-name casualty this year as the world number four crashed to a shock 6-1, 6-3 defeat against Croatia’s Donna Vekic on Monday.
Stephens was expected to mount a strong challenge at the All England Club after winning her maiden Grand Slam crown at the 2017 US Open and finishing as French Open runner-up last month.
But the 25-year-old American, who has been in fine form since returning from foot surgery last year, had only gone past the Wimbledon third round once in six previous visits.
She was beaten in the first round last year and maintained her poor record on grass with another limp display against world number 55 Vekic on Court One.
Vekic, who sealed the upset on her fourth match point, faces Slovakia’s Viktoria Kuzmova or Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson in the second round.
Easy win for Serena
Serena Williams kicked off her bid for an eighth title with a hard-fought 7-5, 6-3 victory over Holland’s Arantxa Rus.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion has now won her last 15 singles matches at Wimbledon after clinching the title in 2015 and 2016.
Williams, who missed Wimbledon last year to prepare for the birth of her first child, will play Bulgarian qualifier Viktoriya Tomova or Czech wild card Tereza Smitkova in the second round.
Wozniacki cruises, Venus battles into round 2
No. 2 seed Caroline Wozniacki cruised to the second round with a 6-0, 6-3 win over USA’s Varvara Lepchenko.
Former champion Venus Williams won a tough first round match against Sweden’s Johanna Larsson 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-1.
There were wins for Czech seventh seed Karolína Pliskova who defeated Britain’s Harriet Dart 7-6 (7/2), 2-6, 6-1 and 10th seeded American Madison Keys, a 6-4, 6-2 winner over Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia.
However, 2017 semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova lost 7-5, 6-3 to Sorana Cirstea.
Karolina Pliskova (CZE x7) bt Harriet Dart (GBR) 7-6 (7/2), 2-6, 6-1
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) bt Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 7-6 (7/4), 6-3
Katie Swan (GBR) bt Irina Camelia Begu (ROM) 6-2, 6-2
Kiki Bertens (NED x20) bt Barbora Stefkova (CZE) 6-3, 6-2
Anna Blinkova (RUS) bt Wang Yafan (CHN) 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-4
Alexandra Dulgheru (ROM) bt Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) 6-4, 1-6, 6-2
Venus Williams (USA x9) bt Johanna Larsson (SWE) 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 6-1
Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) bt Tímea Babos (HUN) 7-5, 6-2
Andrea Petkovic (GER) bt Zhang Shuai(CHN x31) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) bt Mona Barthel (GER) 7-5, 6-4
Rebecca Peterson (SWE) bt Viktória Kužmová (SVK) 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (11/9)
Donna Vekic (CRO) bt Sloane Stephens (USA x4) 6-1, 6-3
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) bt Anna Karolína Schmiedlová (SVK) 5-7, 6-2, 6-2
Serena Williams (USA x25) bt Arantxa Rus (NED) 7-5, 6-3
Sorana Cirstea (ROM) bt Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK x19) 7-5, 6-3
Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) bt Antonia Lottner (GER) 3-6, 7-5, 6-4
Luksika Kumkhum (THA) bt Bernarda Pera (USA) 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
Madison Keys (USA x10) bt Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-4, 6-2
Madison Brengle (USA) bt Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) 2-6, 6-3, 6-3
Camila Giorgi (ITA) bt Anastasija Sevastova (LAT x21) 6-1, 2-6, 6-4
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) bt Petra Martic (CRO) 7-6 (7/0), 2-6, 6-3
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN x2) bt Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 6-0, 6-3