On Ladies Day at The Championships, World No 1 Iga Swiatek came through her first test on the grass of Centre Court, taking the place of defending champion Ash Barty, who retired earlier this year, and beating Jana Fett in straight sets to extend her winning streak to 36 matches on Tuesday.
I'm pretty sad Ash isn't here, because I would have loved to play against her on grass. Basically, it's a huge privilege that I was chosen to be opening. It wasn't obvious because, obviously, Ash would be opening if she was here. I just feel like it's an honour. Iga Świątek
The top seed brushed the Croatian aside, 6-0 6-3, to line up a meeting with Dutchwoman Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove in round two.
Barty reportedly had suggested to Wimbledon organisers that Simona Halep, the 2019 champion, should receive the honour of opening play on Tuesday, but they opted instead for the red-hot World No 1 following concerns over the Romanian’s fitness.
Swiatek opened in some style, carrying on where Barty left off, delivering a masterclass to notch up her 36th win in a row, the most by any female player this century after moving out of a tie with Venus Williams’ longest streak of 35.
Serena Williams owns 23 Grand Slam titles but her longest winning streak is a mere 34 in 2013.
“Still when I see Serena or see Venus, they seem like… the legends,” Swiatek said. “I don’t consider myself a legend. They seem like the ones, they’re the greatest of all time in tennis.”
The longest women’s streak belongs to Martina Hingis, who won 37 matches in a row in 1997, while Swiatek considers her consistency across 3 different court surfaces to be ‘amazing’.
“It just shows how much work we’ve been putting [in] for every match,” the 21-year-old said. “I’m pretty happy that I could show consistency because it was always my goal.
“I didn’t know it’s going to be possible for me to show that much consistency, and actually to win tournaments, but I’m just really happy, and I’m trying to use it the best way possible.”
The Pole added that it had been a privilege to be given the Barty role and looked immediately at home on Centre Court, which the Australian had owned last year in her triumph over Czech Karolina Pliskova in the final.
Swiatek took 33 minutes to hand Fett a 33-minute ‘bagel’ in the opening set in her first match since winning the French Open at Roland Garros.
The Croatian did, at least, briefly threaten a come-back, as she led 3-1, before the top seed re-set and escaped, rattling off 5 games in a row to continue the streak that has stretched back to February, even before Barty had announced her shock retirement.
“I’m pretty sad Ash isn’t here, because I would have loved to play against her on grass,” Swiatek said afterwards. “Basically, it’s a huge privilege that I was chosen to be opening.
“It wasn’t obvious because, obviously, Ash would be opening if she was here. I just feel like it’s an honour.”
Barty retired at the age of 25 having just won the Australian Open in January and spent 114 consecutive weeks as World No 1, a mantle that now is sitting comfortably on Swiatek’s shoulders.
While fans were left a bit gutted, Halep, the 16th seed from Romania, advanced to the 2nd-round with ease, defeating Czech Karolina Muchova, 6-3 6-2, in a performance that dispelled any doubts over a lingering neck injury sustained in Bad Homburg last week.
The last time she played a match at Wimbledon, Halep walked off court with the Venus Rosewater Dish as the women’s singles champion, but the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and an ill-timed injury in 2021 denied her the opportunity to return to the All-England Club as defending champion.
Given a tough first round draw against Muchova, a two-time quarter-finalist, the former World No 1 broke serve 4 times, and never faced a break point herself, needing just 65 minutes to wrap it all up.
Halep struck 16 winners to just 9 unforced errors, and she lost only 9 points in 8 service games overall.
“I have great memories from 2019,” Halep said on Court No 1. “It’s always a pleasure to come here to Wimbledon.
“It was pretty emotional before this match, but now, I want to enjoy it. I’m really happy about it.
“I’ve been struggling a lot the last few years. Many injuries, no confidence, everything that’s happening in the world … now, I love tennis again. I love being on court and I love working.”
Halep next faces 36-year old Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, a former semi-finalist at Wimbledon who is playing the last singles tournament of her career this fortnight, and beat Aussie Jaimee Fourlis, 7-5 6-2.
Meanwhile, Paula Badosa, the No 4 seed from Spain, needed less than an hour to win her first grass-court match of the season, dispatching American qualifier Louisa Chirico in 56 minutes, 6-2 6-1.
Badosa broke serve 5 times and made less unforced errors than Chirico, who racked up 24 in 15 games.
After the match, Badosa told reporters she was pleased with her ability to adapt to the windy conditions on Court 12.
“I’m really happy that I could have a good win here,” she said, having lost her opener at Eastbourne last week.
Badosa’s next opponent is Romania’s Irina Bara, ranked 122, who was a 6-2 6-4 winner against France’s Chloe Paquet on her Wimbledon debut.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova avoided a first-round loss for the second straight year with a 3-set comeback against Italy’s Jasmine Paolini.
After dropping the first set in less than a half hour, the left-handed Czech bounced back for a 2-6 6-4 6-2 win in an hour, 42 minutes, breaking Paolini at 3-3 in the second set, and never trailing from there on in to win her 6th straight match.
“It was tough one, with different conditions and transition from Eastbourne to here, playing different opponent as well,” Kvitova said. “It was really tough. I don’t know how I made it, but probably was just the fighting spirit today.
“I think I felt a little bit better because of the Eastbourne tournament, how I played there. But here, it’s different. Even the grass is different. I think it’s a bit slower.
“The first rounds are just tough. That’s what I expected.
“On the other hand I was telling myself that Jasmine is not really grass court player. She prefer more a clay court. … I knew that I have game to beat her somehow.”
Earlier, Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen narrowly beat Grand Slam winner Sloane Stephens of the United States in straight sets, 7-6(1) 7-5, but fellow American Coco Gauff fought back from a set down to get past Elena-Gabriela Ruse from Romania, 2-6 6-3 7-5.
Zheng, the only player to take a set off of Swiatek at 2022 Roland Garros, took an 1 hour and 43 minutes to pass Stephens.
Canada’s one-time US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, who is coached by Natalie Tauziat and was the runner-up to Jana Novotna in 1998 when her other charge, Harmony Tan, was less than a year old, was a 6-1 6-3 winner over American qualifier Emina Bektas.
Fresh off her first grass-court final in Bad Homburg, Andreescu, ranked 56, claimed the first main draw win of her career at Wimbledon.
Striking hit 28 winners to just 9 unforced errors in a clinical 55-minute win, Andreescu will face 17th seed Elena Rybakina after the Kazakh advanced with a 7-6(2) 7-5 opening win over lucky loser CoCo Vandeweghe from the USA.
Seeds to fall on Tuesday included Jil Teichmann, the No 18 from Switzerland, who lost to Australia’s Alja Tomljanovic, 6-2 6-3, while Poland’s Magdalena Frech upset Camila Giorgi, the 21st-seeded Italian, 7-6(4) 6-1.
Teichmann was fresh off a break-out run to the last 16 at Roland Garros but Tomljanovic swept past the Swiss left-hander in 77 minutes to book a date on Thursday with American qualifier Catherine Harrison.
“I knew she’s had an incredible year so far and that kind of confidence, you can’t buy it,” Tomljanovic said. “It’s just from the whole year, you can feel it. It always comes out in tight moments.
“So I knew that if I wanted to win today, I really had to kind of step up my game and just play the grass court tennis that I know I can.”