The longest-match sequel falls flat at Wimbledon

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“I was more relieved last year to finally get it over with because what we did was remarkable, and you can’t ever think something like that could happen,” he said. “But I also knew after last year’s match that I had no shot in the second round. That was kind of tough to swallow. This year I’m happy to get through this one.”

Mahut was philosophical about how things turned out.

“What we did last year, it’s much more than a tennis match,” he said. “I’m very proud of it. But this is from last year. Today I just lost the match in three sets. It’s a different story.”

With showers in the forecast, Wednesday’s schedule features five-time champion Venus Williams playing on Centre Court in the second round against 40-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm, followed by defending men’s champion Rafael Nadal against Ryan Sweeting. Among other top names scheduled to play are Andy Murray, Andy Roddick and Juan Martin del Potro.

Few matches are likely to inspire the type of emotion that overtook Serena Williams after her 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 first-round win on Centre Court over Aravane Rezai.

The four-time champion, returning to the main stage after missing nearly a year with serious health problems, broke into tears within seconds of ending the match with an ace.

“It definitely was so emotional for me because throughout the last 12 months, I’ve been through a lot of things that’s not normal, things you guys don’t even know about,” she said. “It’s just been a long, arduous road. To stand up still is pretty awesome.”

Williams, who underwent two foot operations and was hospitalized with blood clots in her lungs, played her first competitive matches since last year’s Wimbledon at the grass-court tuneup in Eastbourne last week.

“It’s been a disaster year, but I’ve been praying,” Williams said. “To be able to come back at Wimbledon is pretty awesome. I didn’t expect to play. And I didn’t expect to even do anything. So I’m just excited. I’ve never cried with joy for anything.

“For me it wasn’t about winning the match,” she said. “It was about being out there. … It just really goes to show if you don’t give up, you still have a chance. I guess I proved that I could, that I could. I think that sums it up: I could.”

Rezai was impressed by Williams‘ play and touched by her outpouring.

“It shows she’s not a machine, she’s a human being,” Rezai said.

Federer began his chase for a record-equaling seventh Wimbledon championship by beating Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-2. The third-seeded Swiss won 29 of 31 of his points on serve in the first set and lost just 12 points on serve for the match.

Just as imposing was second-seeded Djokovic, playing for the first time since his 43-match winning streak was stopped by Federer at the French Open. He dropped just 11 points on serve as he beat Jeremy Chardy of France, 6-4, 6-1, 6-1.

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