Anett Kontaveit, the 2nd seed from Estonia, won her first match since April on Monday at Wimbledon, defeating American Bernarda Pera, 7-5 6-1, in the opening round of The Championships.
Their house was attacked. There are huge holes in the house. There are no apartments anymore. So now this home is getting rebuilt, so they can’t live there. They live in my apartment where I’m living with my husband. “Now they are at home safe, they have everything. I’m grateful that they have the opportunities to live, and I am playing tennis. Anhelina Kalinina
Kontaveit battled COVID-19 in the spring and was playing in her first match since falling in the first round of the French Open last month as a Top 5 seed.
“It’s been pretty exciting, being seeded second,” Kontaveit said. “I’m really excited to be playing again and really happy that I can compete here.
“A month ago, I was really having a hard time. I really wouldn’t have come here if I wasn’t feeling like I could play a match, compete at the highest level.
“I’ve been feeling better. I mean, there’s some times I felt dips in my energy from time to time. But I’ve been managing it, trying to prepare the best that I can [and] take the most out of the situation I’m in.”
Tested early by Pera, Kontaveit eventually won the 9 of the last 10 games in her opening win.
Kontaveit started the match strongly and led 4-1 in the opener, before the American won 4 straight games and was 2 points away from pocketing the first set.
Kontaveit split with her previous Russian coach, Dmitry Tursunov, after less than a year of working together, and arrived at Wimbledon looking to start the second half of her 2022 season on a high note.
The Estonian has thrived on grass before, reaching the 3rd-round of Wimbledon in 3 consecutive years from 2017-19, while she won the title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 2017, and was the runner-up at Eastbourne last year.
She will next face German Jule Niemeier, who won her first Grand Slam match against Wang Xiyu from China, 6-1 6-4.
Also moving on was the No 3 seed, Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, who posted a quick 6-1 6-3 victory over Mirjam Bjorklund of Sweden.
American Danielle Collins, the 7th seed, wasn’t as fortunate and became the first woman seeded in the Top 10 to be eliminated at Wimbledon by unseeded Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic, 5-7 6-4 6-4.
Collins, the Australian Open runner-up, looked on course for the 2nd-round after taking a tight opener, but came unstuck against the 66th-ranked Czech, who now faces another American next in the form of Ann Li, who defeated Lucie Bronzetti from Italy, 6-1 6-4.
Another seed to fall in the women’s draw was No 22 Martina Trevisan, a French Open semi-finalist this month, who was thrashed 6-2 6-0 by fellow Italian Elisabetta Cocciaretto.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina said she will use her prize money from Wimbledon to help rebuild her parents’ home after it was bombed during the Russian invasion.
Kalinina said her parents are now staying at her apartment while the rebuilding work takes place at their home in Irpin, which was retaken from Russian troops in late March.
The town, near the capital Kyiv, was heavily damaged at the start of the invasion, which Moscow calls a ‘special military operation’.
“Their house was attacked. There are huge holes in the house. There are no apartments anymore,” said Kalinina, who is seeded 29th at the grass court Grand Slam.
“So now this home is getting rebuilt, so they can’t live there. They live in my apartment where I’m living with my husband.
“Now they are at home safe, they have everything. I’m grateful that they have the opportunities to live, and I am playing tennis.”
Wimbledon banned players from Russia and Belarus from playing at this year’s tournament following the invasion.
After beating Anna Bondar 4-6 6-2 6-4 in the first round Kalinina will next face compatriot Lesia Tsurenko, who said winning or losing tennis matches was not a priority for her while her hometown Kyiv comes under renewed attack.
For Kalinina, however, each victory is a way of helping families in Ukraine survive the war.
“It’s hard to focus, but for me it matters if I win or if I lose,” the 25-year-old said. “I’m helping my grandmother and grandfather, who are in occupied territory now.
“The more I win, I’m helping other families and other people. It’s a privilege to play here, it’s a privilege to play every tournament. If you go further, you earn more money … For me, that matters.
“I’m not a superstar so I’m helping with what I can. And it’s a lot to them, and for me that’s huge motivation to play.”
Elsewhere, former champion Angelique Kerber defeated Kristina Mladenovic, 6-0 7-5, whose choice of outfit caught the eye complied with Wimbledon’s strict all-white dress code but defied convention as the Frenchwoman wore a crop top by adidas.
In her 51st consecutive Grand Slam main draw appearance, Kerber, the 15th seed, took just over an hour to collect her 83rd match-win on grass in her career.
“Wimbledon is really a special place, especially for me where I won this tournament once, playing [semifinals] so many times as well,” Kerber said in her post-match press conference. “Coming back here, seeing the crowd, seeing family, faces, it feels so good to be back here.
“It’s always a tough tournament where you have to play your best. I don’t know, I think I can play always like a few percent better [here] than in other tournaments.”
Next up for Kerber will be Poland’s Magda Linette, who defeated Mexican qualifier Fernanda Contreras Gomez, 6-1 6-4.
“I know the tour already very well, I’m one of the older generation,” Kerber said with a smile. “But I still feel the love for the sport. I practice well. I’m healthy. This is always the most important thing.
“If you can still play good tennis and be on top, it’s always the motivation that gives me to practice and to perform good.”
On a day interrupted several times by rain, Swiss Belinda Bencic was pulling off a stunning comeback after losing the first set 6-4 to China’s Wang Qiang and was trailing 1-5 in the second, destined to be knocked out, but reeled off 6 straight games to level things up, before play was suspended because of the weather.
Just about 48 hours after winning her 8th career Hologic WTA Tour singles title in Bad Homburg, Germany, Caroline Garcia was back on court and given all she could handle by 26-year-old British wild-card Yuriko Miyazaki despite nearly 150 places in the rankings between the two.
It took a 3rd-set match tiebreak played to 10 points, new at Wimbledon this year, to separate them and, in the end, the Frenchwoman rallied from a set down to secure a 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 win in 2 hours, 17 minutes.
Garcia will be Raducanu’s Round 2 opponent, the pair having played in the same round at the BNP Paribas Open in March, where the British No won in 3 sets.
“Obviously she’s the big favourite here for the British fans, so I’m really looking forward to this match,” Garcia said. “It was my first time playing against her a few months ago, and she’s a very new player so you don’t know much about her.
“She’s doing her way and doing very well. I will have to play my game, try to be aggressive. It’s a good match to play.”
Also on Monday, Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan ousted one of this year’s top grass-court players, Beatriz Haddad Maia, the 23rd from Brazil, 6-4 4-6 6-2, in a significant upset that took just under two hours.
Haddad Maia has been one of the hottest players this season, having won her first two titles back-to-back on the lawns of Nottingham and Birmingham, and is currently at a career-high ranking of No 28.
The Brazilian had built a 12-match winning streak on grass before falling to Czech Petra Kvitova in last week’s Eastbourne semi-finals.
Juvan, the World No 62, dashed the Brazilian’s hopes, beating Haddad Maia for the first time in their 3 meetings, and winning 83 percent of points behind her first delivery while dropping serve only once in the match.
Juvan will next meet Dalma Galfi in the second round and the Hungarian overcame Australian qualifier Maddison Inglis, 5-7 6-3 6-4, in 2 hours and 15 minutes.