LONDON, June 25 (Reuters) - Serena Williams will want to banish thoughts of her weekend spat with Maria Sharapova and let her racket do the talking when she opens the defence of her Wimbledon crown against Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella on Tuesday.
The American’s pursuit of a 17th grand slam title has been overshadowed due to the furore caused by a controversial interview she gave to an American magazine.
The 31-year-old top seed will not let the fallout from the interview get in the way of fulfilling her billing as the overwhelming favourite for the title.
Her counterpart in the men’s draw, Novak Djokovic, will want to forget his recent failure at the French Open, a tournament which he had labelled as his ‘top priority’ this year, when he opens his campaign against Germany’s Florian Mayer.
“I played him quarters in Wimbledon last year, so I know what to expect,” said Djokovic, whose French Open nemesis Rafa Nadal suffered a shock first round exit on Monday.
”Mayer’s a tricky player. He has a bit of an unorthodox game. He can be very dangerous on this surface.
“He has a strong backhand. He’s tall. He can serve well. He can move around the court well. I think it’s a difficult opponent for the first round. I‘m ready.”
Serbian Djokovic was lucky to be kept apart from his main rivals after Nadal, Andy Murray and defending champion Roger Federer landed in the bottom half of the draw.
But a potential last 16 opponent, 35-year-old Tommy Haas, has been enjoying good form recently with the Halle semi-finalist up against Russian Dmitry Tursunov. (Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ken Ferris)