Wimbledon 2011: Serena Williams comes through in three sets

By Aimee LewisBBC Sport at Wimbledon

Defending champion Serena Williams came back from losing the opening set to avoid a shock second-round loss against teenager Simona Halep on Court Two.

Williams lacked energy at the start, but found some form to win 3-6 6-2 6-1.

The American, returning from illness and injury, looked lethargic as Halep, 19, impressively won the first set.

Williams's experience and powerful baseline play saw her through, however, as she broke early to clinch the second set and raced through the third set.

The 29-year-old put her fans through some arduous moments during an engrossing match against the promising Halep on a sun-kissed Court Two.

There was just an appreciative wave to the near-capacity crowd when Williams left the court, rather than the uncontrollable tears which streamed down her face after the emotional first-round win over Aravane Rezai.

Williams seemed unhappy to have been scheduled to play on Court Two, saying: "They like to put me and Venus there for some reason I don't know, maybe we'll figure it out."

But the four-time champion, who would have dropped from 25th to 311th in the world rankings had she lost to the Romanian teenager, was pleased to have played a three-setter.

"I want to play longer matches because I get more practice," she said. "I feel like I'm in shape. I'm just playing my way into match condition, just doing the things I did before, that's all I can do right now.

"It was a little windy out there and I was just a little tight. I've just got to relax and enjoy myself more. I started slow, but I was really trying."

When the tenacious Halep broke in the fourth game of the first set, with the help of a sublime crosscourt winner and a wayward Williams forehand, it seemed as if the American's tournament was in danger of ending early.

The seventh seed's rustiness is understandable, however, as she spent nearly a year out of the sport with a foot injury and had emergency treatment for a pulmonary embolism in late February, before returning to the game at Eastbourne earlier this month.

Williams's first serve lacked potency and accuracy and she rarely visited the net, but her inexperienced opponent, who is on the brink of breaking into the top 50, crumbled when faced with a barrage of irretrievable groundstrokes.

Halep lost her opening service game in the second set and Williams comfortably moved to a 3-1 lead, taking the match to a decider thanks to a fortuitous net cord.

With her opponent rattled, it took Williams little time to progress to the third round, where she will face the 26th seed Maria Kirilenko of Russia who defeated Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn 7-5 7-5.