MARIA SHARAPOVA reached up and flicked an over-the-shoulder backhand volley for a winner to wrap up a close-as-can-be first set.
About an hour later, she just as easily swatted away questions from reporters hungry for more juice in her feud with Serena Williams.
"I've said everything that I wanted to say about the issue," the third-seeded Russian said yesterday after a 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory over Kristina Mladenovic of France. "Wimbledon started. I'd really appreciate it if we move on."
Indeed, it was time for tennis after a week of build-up that included the back-and-forth between Sharapova and Williams, stemming from critical comments Williams made in a magazine interview. Williams came back on Sunday and said she had apologised in person to Sharapova.
Asked if she had, in fact, received that apology, Sharapova responded: "Yeah, as I just said, I'd really like to move on."
Opening her stay at the All England Club on centre court, the 2004 champion got off to a slow start.
The tiebreaker was jittery, but with the score tied at five, Sharapova came up with a backhand crosscourt winner, followed by the backhand overhead volley to close out the set. Sharapova broke in the fourth game of the second set and served it out from there.
"I'm really happy with the way I came out and played," Sharapova said.
Williams, who beat Sharapova in the French Open final earlier this month, opens the defence of her title today against Mandy Minella.
A routine first-round match for Victoria Azarenka turned into something more harrowing for the No 2 seed. She closed out her 6-1, 6-2 victory over Maria Joao Koehler after tumbling on court one and injuring her right knee in the second game of the second set.
After a visit from the trainer, Azarenka played with a heavy wrap on her right knee. She was limping and winced after several points.