“If I’d known they were coming, I would have shaved,” the Scot said with a smile. “I was thinking to myself as I came off I was sweaty and very hairy. I said to them, ‘I’m sorry, I’m a bit sweaty.’ But it was really nice.”
Murray’s next opponent is unseeded Feliciano Lopez, who came from two sets down and saved two match points in the third set tiebreaker to overcome Polish qualifier Lukasz Kubot 3-6, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7), 7-5, 7-5. Lopez served 28 aces.
After winning last year’s Wimbledon, Serena missed nearly a year after foot surgery and subsequent blood clots in her lungs. She returned two weeks ago at Eastbourne for the first time since then. Venus also returned at Eastbourne after a five-month layoff with a hip injury.
Venus was clearly off the top of her game Monday, committing 16 unforced errors and converting only one of four break points. She was broken four times.
“I didn’t seem to get the ball in,” Venus said. “She took her opportunities. I just didn’t put the ball in the court, simple as that. Unfortunately, I seem not to have my good days against her. But she played well.”
The 33rd-seeded Pironkova, who lost in the semifinals here last year to eventual runner-up Vera Zvonareva, played steady tennis against Venus and never cracked.
“I beat her two times, two consecutive years — it feels amazing to play such a champion on this legendary court,” the Bulgarian said after holding serve and stroking a backhand winner down the line on her second match point. “When I come here I just feel so relaxed. I really like the atmosphere here.”
Serena saved four match points before the ninth-seeded Bartoli closed out the contest by hitting a service winner into the corner. It was Serena’s earliest exit at Wimbledon since a third-round loss in 2005.
“I never came here thinking I would lose,” she said. “That’s my attitude. You win some and you lose some. Today just happened to be the one that slipped under me.”
But Serena said she was satisfied getting as far as she did after such a long time away from the game.
“I think I did really well just being able to come back and play and win some matches, and just really play tough,” she said. “Even today I lost, but I was able to kind of hang in there and play tough. And I can only get better. That can potentially be really scary, because I can only go up from here and I can just do so much more.”
Bartoli made the Wimbledon final in 2007, losing to Venus.
Serena had 20 unforced errors Monday to go with 29 winners, and managed to convert only one of five break points. Bartoli served 10 aces, two more than Williams, and kept down her errors to 17.
It was the first time Bartoli has beaten the American after straight-set defeats in their previous two matches.
“Beating Serena is almost like a dream come true,” Bartoli said. “Even though she didn’t play for almost one year, she’s probably one of the greatest champions in women’s tennis.