Tennis focus on Robson and Watson
British tennis fans will be pinning their hopes on the girls as Laura Robson and Heather Watson spring into action on the Wimbledon lawns.
The pair will play their opening matches in this year’s tournament while world number 1 Serena Williams begins her latest grand slam campaign.
She will step out onto centre court as she tries to bury a high-profile spat with number 3 seed Maria Sharapova that threatened to cast a shadow over her quest for the title.
Fans began queuing for the day’s tennis after many failed to get tickets for the show courts on the first day of action, amid heightened interest in Andy Murray’s prospects.
Crowds began flocking to SW19 as early as Saturday in the hope of watching the British no 1 and queues outside the grounds were closed at 7.45am – earlier than ever before on an opening day of play at the All England Club.
But there were still empty seats on Centre Court which sparked anger among fans.
Sports personality Gary Lineker expressed his frustration on Twitter: “Lots of empty seats on centre court. Corporate lethargy no doubt. What a waste of tickets so many could give their right arm for #wimbledon.”
Others suggested tickets had been “wasted” on businesses and sponsors.
The criticisms echoed the row that broke out last summer after noticeable swathes of empty seats at the Olympics led to accusations that organisers gave too many tickets to sponsors and media.
A spokesman from the All England Club played down the row and said supporters would naturally leave their seats to get refreshments at what is an all-day event.
Those who did secure a place on Centre Court were not disappointed when Murray, 26, cruised into the second round after defeating Germany’s Benjamin Becker.
He emerged victorious – in less than two hours – after Spaniard Rafael Nadal made a shock exit from the tournament, loosing in straight sets to the Belgian player, Steve Darcis.
Murray’s win came on a busy day at Wimbledon that drew a series of high-profile tennis fans, including the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister Pippa Middleton and her brother, James.
The pair watched play from the Royal Box on Centre Court along with Prince and Princess Michael of Kent; former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice; actress Felicity Kendal; and athlete Denise Lewis.
Miss Middleton was seen smiling broadly as play got under way and defending champion Roger Federer won his clash against Romanian Victor Hanescu before Murray’s late-afternoon match.
The Scot, who was supported by his girlfriend Kim Sears and mother Judy Murray, was the only Briton to make it through to the next round out of the seven who played.
Debutant Kyle Edmund, Johanna Konta, Elena Baltacha, Samantha Murray, James Ward and Anne Keothavong all bowed out of the Championships on the opening day.
Now hopes rest on Murray, along with Robson, 19, Watson, 21, and wild card Tara Moore.
British women’s no 1 Robson will face world number 10 Maria Kirilenko on Court One while Watson takes on American rising star Madison Keys.
Moore will make her Wimbledon debut against Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi on Court 17.
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