Williams signals her title intent

SERENA WILLIAMS signalled her intent to regain the Wimbledon crown as the number seven seed brushed past Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain in straight sets on Court Two yesterday.

The so-called ‘Graveyard of Champions’ never looked like claiming another famous scalp as the American stepped up her game following a slow start to wrap up a 7-5 6-0 victory despite a 90-minute stoppage for rain.

Williams, 26, was victorious here in both 2002 and 2003, but has since suffered from a combination of lack of form and injury as she slipped down the rankings.

The American has been troubled by a hamstring problem recently.

“I was doing the best I could today,” she said. “It (the hamstring) is doing okay. I am just taking it a day at a time and it is getting better slowly, but surely.”

Justine Henin took just 55 minutes to dismiss the plucky challenge of world number 117 Jorgelina Cravero of Argentina.

As the sun finally shone on Wimbledon’s opening day, top seed Henin came back out on court just before 7pm following a rain break of 90 minutes to post a 6-3 6-0 success and took her first step towards winning the only Grand Slam that has eluded her.

Former champion Martina Hingis survived a real scare against British teenager Naomi Cavaday to edge into the second round at Wimbledon in three sets.

Cavaday, 221 places behind Hingis in the world rankings at 232, fought off three set points in a topsy-turvy first set before winning the tie-break 7-1.

And the 18-year-old fought back from a break down in the second to force two match points, only to slip up 7-5.

Hingis never looked back, taking the third to seal a 6-7 (1-7) 7-5 6-0 win.

In the day’s other matches which made it through the rain, Shahar Peer, the 16th seed from Israel, beat Thailand’s Tamarine Tanasugarn 7-5 6-2 while Australian Alicia Molik knocked out Russian Anastasia Rodionova in straight sets, 6-3 6-2.

On Court 14, Switzerland’s Patty Schnyder, the 15th seed, had a marathon match against Camille Pin of France, eventually coming through 6-1 4-6 8-6.

Meanwhile Tim Henman’s Wimbledon hopes hang in the balance in a dramatic first-round match against Carlos Moya.

The match was abandoned late last night because of the falling darkness with the score at 3-6 6-1 7-5 2-6 5-5.

Henman, 32, had come from a break down in the final set and earned four match points in a dramatic 10th game.

But Spaniard Moya, 30, held his nerve to hang on, meaning the players must return on today.

Roger Federer began his 2007 campaign with an easy win over Teimuraz Gabashvili.

The Swiss world number one, chasing a fifth straight Wimbledon title, saw off the unseeded Russian 6-3 6-2 6-4.

Federer was never threatened on his own serve by the world number 86 and simply shrugged off Gabashvili’s occasional patches of good play.

Third seed Andy Roddick joined Federer in the second round with a 6-1 7-5 7-6 (7-3) win over US compatriot Justin Gimelstob on Court One.

Elsewhere, 17th seed David Ferrer beat Argentina’s Sergio Roitman in straight sets 6-3 6-3 6-1, while France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu saw off Radek Stepanek 7-6 6-2 6-2.

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