Bryan Armen Graham
Tuesday June 21st, 2011

John Isner (above) needed just over two hours to dispense of Nicolas Mahut in the highly anticipated rematch of last year's marathon first-rounder. (AP)

WIMBLEDON, England — Here’s a look at three players who distinguished themselves Tuesday at SW19.

1. Serena Williams. She cried out of sheer gratitude and joy at the conclusion of her three-set win over Aravene Rezai, saying it's the most emotional she's ever been in triumph. The hard-hitting Rezai is fighting through the stress of estrangement from her abusive father, and it was great to see her so competitive on the Centre Court stage. But there was no stopping Serena, who wasn't thrilled with her overall play but excelled with her serve and timing on the biggest points. She may have missed 11 months of tennis, but the defending champion looked remarkably familiar.

2. John Isner. Nobody could believe he actually drew Nicolus Mahut, again, in the first round after their surreal marathon last year. It took Isner months to recover from that, thanks partly to an ankle injury, and he made certain this one ended quickly: 7-6, 6-2, 7-6, in just two hours and four minutes. He was the better player in all aspects, and the two shared a nice embrace at the finish. (Interesting that there were dozens of empty seats throughout this match, but from the standpoint of pure tennnis, it's hardly a compelling matchup.) 3. Lleyton Hewitt. Now playing his 13th Wimbledon, this man has more grass-court wins (104) than Roger Federer, Andy Roddick or any other active player. He's not going to win the tournament, as he did nine years ago, but he was up against Kei Nishikori, one of the tour's up-and-comers, in the first round. Just when it appeared the momentum might have switched in the kid's favor, Hewitt regained control ini a 6-1, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 win.

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