UPDATE 1-Tennis-Sharapova makes short work of Rodionova
LONDON, June 25 (Reuters) - A brief encounter on Centre Court was all Maria Sharapova needed to renew her love affair with Wimbledon on Monday.
The world number one and top seed waved and blew kisses to the crowd, who gave her a standing ovation after a brisk 6-2 6-3 pulverising of Australian Anastasia Rodionova in her opening singles match.
"It's always a very nice feeling for me to be back on Centre Court. It's been a year," said last year's losing finalist. "It's such a special place for me.
"You know, it's quiet, but it's a very understated, nice feeling to be out there."
The French Open champion had said over the weekend that she was starting from scratch, getting back to reality and starting a "whole new ball game".
The reality looked more like making her opponent scratch around for whatever she could get.
The top seed, winner at Wimbledon in 2004 and looking to reach her third consecutive grand slam final, was 5-0 up with only three points dropped, before meeting some brief resistance as Rodionova held serve and then broke for 5-2.
The first two games of the second set went with serve before the powerful Russian romped into a 5-1 lead.
Rodionova delayed the inevitable with a break for 5-2, held serve for 5-3 and then crumbled again as Sharapova served out with an ace after 70 minutes on court.
"The first one's always tricky," Sharapova told reporters in a discussion that focused more on her Roland Garros win and return to the number one ranking.
"To go out there after not competing for a couple weeks, the transition from clay to grass, I thought I started off the match really well.
"I had a few letdowns towards the end of both of those sets. Overall I'm pretty happy with the way I performed, especially for a first match, not having matches coming in." (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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