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Garbine Muguruza begins Wimbledon title defense in style

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LONDON – After losing just one set on her way to the Wimbledon title a year ago, Garbine Muguruza picked up exactly where she left off at the All England Club.

The No. 3-seeded Muguruza was hardly troubled in beating British wild card Naomi Broady 6-2, 7-5 on Tuesday.

Muguruza saved the only break point she faced and could have ended the encounter more swiftly had she been more clinical with her own chances.

“I’m pretty happy with my serve and controlling the emotions,” Muguruza said. “You know, to be back in a Grand Slam is always difficult, so I’m excited with the way I’m playing.”

The usual adulation afforded to the reigning champion fulfilling the honor of opening proceedings on Centre Court on Day 2 of the tournament was tempered by the nationality of Muguruza’s opponent. Muguruza was duly honored but the British crowd backed Broady.

However, the 2016 French Open champion quickly dispelled any thoughts of an upset by breaking Broady’s opening service game, and did it again to take the first set 6-2.

Broady saved six break points in the second set before succumbing to Muguruza’s constant pressure in the 12th game.

Muguruza had no complaints. “I found the crowd very fair, with both of us,” she said.

The Spaniard failed to build upon her dominant display at last year’s Wimbledon as she exited the U.S. Open in the second round and this year’s Australian Open in the fourth.

However, her best tennis – and both of her Grand Slam titles – have come during the European summer, and a run to the French Open semifinals last month suggests that may be the case once more.

Only an inspired performance from eventual champion Simona Halep knocked her out at Roland Garros, and with grass being better suited to Muguruza, she is a major contender at Wimbledon.

“The fact that it’s different surfaces, it helps,” Muguruza said.

Her next opponent will be unseeded Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck.

The top-seeded Halep begins her campaign later against Kurumi Nara on Centre Court.

Johanna Konta, who knocked out Halep en route to the semifinals a year ago, made it through to the second round by defeating Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia 7-5, 7-6 (7).

Australian trio Daria Gavrilova, Ashleigh Barty, and Samantha Stosur all advanced with straightforward wins.

The 26th-seeded Gavrilova cruised past U.S. lucky loser Caroline Dolehide 6-2, 6-3. She will face Stosur in the next round, after the 2011 U.S. Open champion defeated Shuai Peng of China 6-4, 7-5.

Meanwhile, the 17th-seeded Barty defeated Swiss opponent Stefanie Voegele 7-5, 6-3 to claim her first main-draw singles victory at the All England Club. She will next face British wild card Gabriella Taylor or 2014 runner-up Eugenie Bouchard.

On the men’s side, Juan Martin del Potro maintained his record of never losing in the first round at Wimbledon with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win over Peter Gojowczyk of Germany.

The fifth-seeded Argentine will next face Feliciano Lopez, who broke Roger Federer’s record by appearing in a 66th consecutive Grand Slam singles tournament as he defeated Federico Delbonis of Argentina 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev was also through after defeating James Duckworth of Australia 7-5, 6-2, 6-0.

Serena Williams No. 17 seed for US Open, 1 spot behind Venus

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Serena Williams is seeded No. 17 for the U.S. Open, nine spots higher than her current ranking of No. 26.

The U.S. Tennis Association announced the seedings for the main draws of women’s and men’s singles on Tuesday.

Williams was put one place behind her older sister, Venus.

The draw for the tournament is Thursday. Play begins Monday.

This will be the third Grand Slam tournament of Williams’ return to competition since she gave birth to a daughter during the 2017 U.S. Open last September, then dealt with health complications.

The 23-time major champion, who turns 37 next month, was the runner-up at Wimbledon in July.

More AP tennis coverage: https://www.apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

Want to vote for the Tennis Hall of Fame? Now you can

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Martina Hingis figures she wouldn’t have needed any help from fans to earn her spot in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Still, she likes the idea that folks around the world now will have a say in who gets elected.

“I would have hoped that people liked me and liked my game, liked my style, so hopefully that wouldn’t have made a difference to make it in or out,” Hingis said with a laugh during a phone interview. “I would have only hoped that it would only push me more. I would hope that in my case, it would have been pretty clear that I had made it.”

Her sport’s Hall will let fans help select its next inductees. Anyone will be able to submit an online ballot starting in late August for the Class of 2019.

The votes will then become part of the overall tally that determines which players are elected.

As in the past, members of the Hall of Fame, journalists and tennis historians will continue to be the primary selectors.

Inductees still will need to be named on 75 percent of the ballots to get in. But now, the top three recipients of votes from fans will get a “bonus” percentage that will be tacked on to what they are given by the main panel – 3 percent for the most popular candidate among the fans, 2 percent for second place, 1 percent for third.

So in the case of a candidate who is nearly approved by the Hall-chosen voters but did not quite garner enough support, the choices of people who watched from the stands or on TV could matter.

“You can help someone who maybe is close, almost there, with 74 percent, and then with 1 percent of the vote from the fans or 2 percent, you get to be a Hall of Famer, because people liked you and they followed you and they enjoyed your game,” said Hingis, who was a member of the Hall’s Class of 2013 and now serves as an ambassador for the shrine, which is in Newport, Rhode Island. “Without the fans, you wouldn’t have the sport.”

The nominees for the Class of 2019 will be announced this week. The fan vote results will be released in October, and the list of inductees will be announced in January.

Michael Stich and Helena Sukova are this year’s inductees.