WIMBLEDON, England -- No. 2 Victoria Azarenka recovered from a nasty fall Monday to defeat Maria Joao Koehler 6-1, 6-2 in the first round of Wimbledon.
Azarenka led 6-1, 1-0 and was serving at 30-30 when she slipped and fell on No. 1 Court after taking her customary split step while awaiting Koehler's return. She let out a sharp scream and stayed on the ground sobbing until a tournament official and athletic trainer arrived to attend to her. After being helped to her feet, Azarenka limped to her chair.
The trainer applied some heavy tape around Azarenka's right knee and she carefully played on. She moved gingerly after the restart but still managed to advance.
"I was in such shock," Azarenka said. "For two minutes I had such a consistent pain that it just completely freaked me out. ... You're just down on the ground. You never know what happened."
Azarenka said she was determined to keep playing.
"I'm pretty proud of the way I kind of programmed my mind and really was taking it one at a time because it's never easy," she said. "At one point I couldn't see the ball. All I could think about is what happened. So that shock took a little bit of while for me to get over. But I'm glad I could find that calmness in that critical moment."
Azarenka, a semifinalist the last two years, is scheduled to play Flavia Pennetta in the second round Wednesday. Asked if she would recover in time for that match, Azarenka said: "I hope so. I still have to do some more check-ups to make sure. It's good to have tomorrow to recover. But I still need to make the final assessments."