Serena Williams needed little more than an hour to race back into the third round of Wimbledon, knocking out Bulgarian qualifier Viktoriya Tomova, 6-1, 6-4 in her first Centre Court appearance since 2016.
Playing at the All England Club for the 18th time in her career, the 23-time Grand Slam champion made quick work of Tomova, a 23-year-old making her Wimbledon main draw debut, after 66 minutes on court.
After breaking Stefanie Graf’s Open Era record of 22 major titles at the 2017 Australian Open, Serena missed four major tournaments as she married and gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Jr.
Back on tour since the BNP Paribas Open, the American aims to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 – 13 of which were captured before the Open Era – and win an eighth Wimbledon title, which would be her third in four years.
Tomova twice dropped serve in the opening set, and though she fell behind a break early in the second, seemed to settle in as the match reached its critical phase, saving a match point to force Williams to serve it out in the following game.
In all, Serena struck 24 winners to just 16 unforced errors to book a Round of 32 clash with either Tatjana Maria or former World No.10 Kristina Mladenovic. Maria caused one of the first big upsets of the tournament when she upset No.5 seed Elina Svitolina in three sets.
Meanwhile, Wimbledon second seed Caroline Wozniacki became the biggest casualty of the tournament so far as she was a second-round loser to Ekaterina Makarova.
The Dane, who won the title in Eastbourne last week and was seeded second in London, lost 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 to the Russian on Court One.