LONDON, July 3 (Reuters) - Five-times Wimbledon champions Venus Williams came through a tricky first-round test against Belgian Elise Mertens on Monday emerging with a 7-6(7) 6-4 victory.
The 37-year-old American has had a stressful build-up to the tournament after police last week blamed her driving for a fatal motoring accident in Florida that led to the death of a 78-year-old man.
A nervous Mertens struggled early, going 3-0 down in the first set, but the 21-year-old, ranked 54th in the world, battled back to force a tiebreak which Williams won 9-7.
Williams, who last won Wimbledon in 2008, was unable to convert two match points in the second set before a rain break, but she returned to serve out for victory.
Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond