Maria Sharapova Defeats Kristina Mladenovic to Advance at 2013 Wimbledon

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 24:  Maria Sharapova of Russia plays a forehand during her Ladies' Singles first round match against Kristina Mladenovic of France on day one of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 24, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Russian tennis star and No. 3 overall seed Maria Sharapova defeated Kristina Mladenovic by a score of 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 in the first round to advance at the 2013 Wimbledon grand slam tournament.

Sharapova is coming off a tough loss to Serena Williams at the 2013 French Open and the controversy that has surrounded the duo leading into Wimbledon, but a great start to this Grand Slam should answer all questions about off-court issues becoming a distraction.

While this was far from the dominant win she would have loved in the first round, this was the wake-up call that Sharapova needed coming into this tournament:

While most expected Sharapova to beat Mladenovic on Monday, the fact that the French star stood her ground and made the first set incredibly interesting is a testament to how good the 20-year-old is going to become.

The more experienced Sharapova threw everything at her young opponent, but Mladenovic proved with her speed along the baseline and her return ability that she would not go quietly, keeping on pace with the Russian sensation and winning over fans at Centre Court:

As strong as Mladenovic played, Sharapova was overwhelming with her serve and still looked to be playing as well as she had before and during her loss against Williams at the French Open.

Sharapova went on to beat Mladenovic in the first set 7-6 (7-5) and carried that momentum into the second set as well.

The No. 3 seed came out on fire in the second set, seeing her chance to overwhelm Mladenovic who is playing in just her second Wimbledon, and thoroughly dominated the French star in every aspect of the match.

Mladenovic was able to steal three games, but it was ultimately Sharapova that won the match in straight sets and proved that she was ready to challenge for another Wimbledon title almost 10 years after her first.

Sharapova will now face the winner of Michelle Larcher de Brito vs. Melanie Oudin matchup in the second round.