"I didn't play my best, but I'll get there," said Serena in a post-match interview.
Arantxa Rus, outside the Top 100 since 2014, gave Serena a run for her money and definitely got up for this match. The wind was definitely a big challenge for Serena, but she managed it in straight sets, winning 7-5 6-3 after an hour and 27 minutes. Next up for the great champion is either Tereza Smitkova or Viktoriya Tomova. Past that, Serena might be facing fifth seed Elina Svitolina.
7-5 6-3: We've seen Serena wear emotions on her long sleeves, but it was a very calm and collected start to the game from Serena. She dominated in the rallies, pushed Rus back with her serve and got two match points at 40-15. Serena got overexcited on the first one, hitting a backhand long and Rus got to deuce with a return forehand winner down-the-line. Serena got her third match point with an advantage and the emotion started coming up again. Rus saved with two body shots at Serena, certainly getting some help from the wind. Williams got another match point after an unreturned serve, but Rus got aggressive and kept holding on. Serena got her fifth, but Rus won't give up, getting a second return winner in the game. It was Williams' sixth that finally proved successful, Rus ending the match with a Rus backhand unforced error.
5-3: After an error to being the game, Serena wins the next three points to get two break points. Rus constructs a great rally to get one back, but Serena converts the break point and will be serving for the match.
4-3: Williams coming up with some great attacking tennis to go 30-0 up, and despite one unforced error, it was almost a perfect game from Serena, keeping the rallies short, ending the game with her fifth ace.
3-3: Serena started the game with the clear intent to get the break back, going up 0-30. Rus got a bit lucky with the net tape, but Serena hits a beautiful deep backhand to get breakpoints at 15-40. Rus gets one back with her hardest serve of the match (118 mph), but she hits the next forehand wide, Serena breaking back.
2-3: Rus kept on surprising as she took a 0-30 lead on Serena's serve, it almost seemed as if the match was turning on that corrected call and replayed point, but Serena was not having it, finally getting some easier points against the well-moving Rus, winning the next four to hold.
1-3: Serena slipped on the grass in the second point of the game. Rus looked very confident on her serve with the break, going 40-0 up. Serena gets one back with a great point, but Rus holds after Serena takes a forehand long.
1-2: Serena made an error off the forehand wing to give Rus a 0-15 lead, but dominated the next rallies to go 40-15 up. Williams made the same error as in the first point with a topspin crosscourt forehand, and she fell to her knees after hitting an overhead winner, but they had to replay the point after the line judge made a wrong call on the previous ball. Rus won the next 3 points and goes up with a break.
1-1: Rus had a great game on serve and went 40-0 up, but Serena confused her with a rare slice return, eliciting an error from the No. 105, but she held.
1-0: Serena struggled on serve to begin the game, so Rus got a look at 15-30 and a break point at 30-40. Williams won the next three points and held to open the second set.
Rus has done well to hold her own with Williams, but it has been mostly the body serve keeping her afloat. Serena has been more dominant in rallies, so we'll see if Rus will continue to keep up.
7-5: Rus actually won the first point on her serve for once with a body serve, but she soon found herself set points down after some unforced errors and an incredible rally. Rus saved the first with a wonderful slice serve down the T, but after having Serena right where she wanted her, Rus puts a forehand long.
6-5: Williams went 30-0 up, but Rus produced some great shots to tie it up to 30-30. It took a great rally from Serena to get to 40-30 and an unreturned serve to go 6-5 up.
5-5: As usual at this point for Rus, she goes down 0-30 on her serve after a double fault and a forehand unforced error from Rus. Serena missed an opportunity with a short ball to her backhand, making Rus turn it on. The Dutch went 40-30 up, but took herself back to deuce. She held her serve after two errors from Serena.
5-4: A simple hold for Williams, her first clean game of the match, putting now pressure on Rus, who will be serving to stay in the set.
4-4: Rus found her first ace with a body serve to start the game and despite not serving big, she was serving smart, especially the body serves combined with the wind. A good hold.
4-3: Rus missed her opportunities, so Serena went 30-0 up, and made Serena turn it on with some great rallies. At 40-15, Williams was able to predict Rus' approach shot and hold serve.
3-3: Rus began the game with a double fault and after a huge crosscourt backhand winner from Williams, she was down 0-30 on her serve for the third time in a row. Serena got over-excited, missing her next two returns and Rus did not let this game slip.
3-2: Despite the terrible wind, it's a professional service game from Serena, getting the first ace of the match and winning most rallies fairly easily.
2-2: Rus had a tough time on serve again, unable to push Serena back with it. Williams went up 15-40, but Rus fought back to get it to deuce. Serena contributed with some unforced errors, so Rus gets her first hold.
2-1: Rus seems to be adjusting to playing Serena and is able to put pressure on her in some rallies. Williams was down 0-30 again, but got break points this time at 15-40. Serena got one back with a huge forehand down the line, but Rus converted the second one despite some dodgy netplay.
2-0: Rus has trouble dealing with Serena's power on the grass, really not looking comfortable. She gets broken at 15-40.
1-0: Williams had a hard time with her serve at the beginning, going down 0-30, but when she got the ball, she dominated rallies. Serena continues to make interesting fashion choices, wearing skin color tights, wonder if that's cleared with the dress code.
Williams to serve.
Despite it being quite hot, it is very windy, so we'll see how the players adjust on serve.
Serena wearing a very interesting outfit for her warm-up, long pants, will try to post a picture at some point.
Serena Williams and Arantxa Rus walk on court to huge applause.
The winner will face either wildcard Tereza Smitkova or Viktoriya Tomova.
Milos Raonic defeated Liam Broady 7-5 6-0 6-1, so we're just minutes away from Serena back at Wimbledon!
Arantxa Rus may prove to be a bit of a tricky opponent. The former World No. 1 Junior is a leftie and despite clay being her best surface, she has reached the third round at Wimbledon back in 2012. However, the 27-year-old's recent form hasn't been the most impressive. Rus has gone 2-3 this grass season, beating Ekaterina Alexandrova and Alla Kudryavtseva, but losing to CoCo Vandeweghe, Anna Kalinskaya, and Kristyna Pliskova in straight sets.
It is quite surprising that Serena was declared second-favorite by odds-makers behind Petra Kvitova. The 36-year-old hasn't played any lead-up tournaments on grass after her pec injury at Roland Garros, so we can't actually tell whether she is match fit. To Serena's credit, she has won Wimbledon seven times before, so considering her a contender isn't outrageous. There was some controversy after Williams was seeded 25th, thus causing No. 32 Dominika Cibulkova to be unseeded.
This match will be closing out Day 1 action on Court No. 1 at Wimbledon. It is approximated that the match will begin at 11:30 am, but the start time will be entirely dependent on how long Milos Raonic and Liam Broady go.
Welcome to the live coverage of the 2018 Wimbledon first round! My name is Jakub Bobro and I am happy to be bringing you game-by-game coverage of this first-round encounter at Wimbledon between 25th seed Serena Williams and Arantxa Rus here on VAVEL. From now on until the match begins approximately at 11:30 am ET, news and notes will be above to get you up to speed. Be sure to return once the match begins for game-by-game updates!