Clijsters off to flying start

2010-06-21 16:22

London - The Wimbledon tennis championships got underway Monday with defending champion Roger Federer going in search of his seventh title, while comeback girl Kim Clijsters got off to a flying start.

The men's defending champion is always the first to play on the pristine grass of Centre Court, and Swiss top seed Federer began his campaign against Colombia's Alejandro Falla.

Women's defending champion Serena Williams gets her campaign underway against Portuguese teenager Michelle Larcher de Brito.

Belgian eighth seed Clijsters, who spent more than two years out of the game, marked her return to the All England Club with a quick, straight sets victory over Italy's Maria Elena Camarin.

Women's 11th seed Marion Bartoli, 12th seed Nadia Petrova and 21st seed Vera Zvonareva also went through to the second round in straight sets.

The winners of this year's Wimbledon singles' titles will net £1 000 000 in prize money after a credit-crunch defying increase of £150 000.

The total prize money for the event stands at £13 725m.

Taiwan's Chan Yung-Jan got the first win of the championships, downing Swiss veteran Patty Schnyder, who was playing in her 56th Grand Slam. Chan reached the second round for the first time with a 6-0, 6-2 win.

Later on Centre Court, women's fourth seed Jelena Jankovic was to face teenage British wild card Laura Robson, who won the 2008 girls' singles.

Jankovic's fellow Serb Novak Djokovic, the men's third seed, was then to face Belgium's Olivier Rochus.

Last year's beaten finalists started their campaign on Number One Court.

US number one Andy Roddick, who lost one of the all-time greatest finals in a knife-edge 16-14 fifth set duel with Federer, was up against compatriot Rajeev Ram.

Venus Williams, the five-time Wimbledon champion who lost the women's final to her sister Serena last year, begins against Paraguay's Rossana de los Rios.

In changes for 2010, Courts 3 and 4 have been demolished, with the 2 000-seater bowl of the new Court 3 already in place, though it will not be ready until next year.

The traditional punnet of strawberries has gone up by 25 pence to £2.50.

The Wimbledon favourite treat was even handed out at London Heathrow Airport to mark the start of the tournament.

Queen Elizabeth II is due to make her first visit to the championships since 1977 when she takes her place in the royal box on Centre Court on Thursday.