Defending Wimbledon women’s singles champion loses in first round

LONDON — Defending champion Marketa Vondrousova was knocked out in the first round of Wimbledon on Tuesday, the first female holder to fall at the opening hurdle since Steffi Graf 30 years ago.

The Czech Republic player, who became the first unseeded woman to lift the title last year, earned a far less welcome accolade after a 6-4 6-2 defeat by Spain’s Jessica Bouzas Maneiro.

‘Yeah, it just didn’t go as planned today,’ a downcast Vondrousova said, adding that despite her best efforts the pressure of defending the title had got to her. ‘I feel like even if you don’t want to think about it, you just think about it … all the time here, I see posters here and everything, my name everywhere.

‘Today I was really nervous since the start. I couldn’t shake it off. Also she was playing good. I didn’t have many chances to come back into the match or she didn’t give me many free points. Yeah, credit to her. I’m going to come back stronger, I hope.’

‘It was an amazing feeling to go back on Centre Court. Now it’s like mixed feelings,’ Vondrousova continued. ‘I love to be here. I would love to stay longer also. Yeah, today was really tough.’

Ranked world number 83, Bouzas Maneiro had won only one tour-level match all year heading into Wimbledon, but secured her first win across all Grand Slams when she slapped a backhand down the line.

‘It is one of the most important moments of my life,’ the Spaniard smiled as she soaked up the cheers. ‘I’m just … I’m surprised with myself to be honest.

‘I was just thinking about enjoying the moment and try to play Marketa. She’s one of the best players in the world. She won last year here. I had no pressure, enjoy the moment, enjoy the tournament and just trying to be free-playing and I did it.

‘The atmosphere was so nice, so … elegant … it feels like I was at home, I don’t know why,’ she added, explaining her lack of nerves on one of the sport’s greatest stages.

The 21-year-old from Galicia hit the ball cleanly throughout an unremarkable Centre Court clash, but only really needed to keep it in play as errors flew from Vondrousova’s racket with alarming regularity.

Struggling with a hip injury which derailed her preparation, sixth-seeded Vondrousova now heads for the exit while Bouzas Maneiro will next face compatriot Cristina Bucsa or Romanian Ana Bogdan in the second round.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY