Stephen Wilson

WIMBLEDON, England: Returning to the court where she won her first Grand Slam championship a year ago, Petra Kvitova overcame a shaky start and a rain delay Tuesday to open her Wimbledon title defense with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Akgul Amanmuradova.

Four-time champion Serena Williams, meanwhile, returned to the same Court 2 where big sister Venus was upset a day earlier and restored family pride by beating Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4.

The fourth-seeded Kvitova fell behind 3-0 and 4-1 in the first set on Centre Court before running off seven consecutive games to take command against the 96th-ranked player from Uzbekistan.

After Kvitova squandered a match point at 5-3 in the second set, play was suspended and the covers rolled onto the court — the first rain break of the tournament.

When play resumed half an hour later, it took just three minutes to wrap up the match. After Amanmuradova won the first two points to hold for 5-4, Kvitova closed it out at love, hitting a service winner, two aces and forcing a backhand error.

“It was unbelievable to come back here as the defending champion,” said Kvitova, who beat Maria Sharapova in last year’s final. “In the beginning I think I was nervous — first match on the grass it’s always difficult to know what you can expect. I had a lot of mistakes and then I tried to play my game and go forward.”

Following Kvitova on Centre Court was two-time champion Rafael Nadal of Spain, and he found himself in an early hole just as she had. Nadal was behind 4-0 in the opening set, but roared back to beat Brazilian left-hander Thomaz Bellucci 7-6 (0), 6-2, 6-3. Nadal closed the match with an ace down the middle, his sixth of the day.

Nadal, coming off his record seventh French Open title, broke six times and had 35 winners and 18 errors. Having lost in last year’s final to Novak Djokovic, he is bidding for a 12th Grand Slam title.

Play was later suspended for the day because of rain and poor light, leaving several matches unfinished.

Three-time finalist Andy Roddick was leading Britain’s Jamie Baker 7-6 (1), 4-2 on Court 1 when the covers came on. Tenth-seeded Sara Errani, runner-up at the French Open earlier this month, was holding match point in the second set when her match against American qualifier Coco Vandeweghe was halted.

Also advancing to the second round in straight sets was No. 2 Victoria Azarenka, the Australian Open champion, who beat American Irina Falconi 6-1, 6-4. Azarenka reached the semifinals at Wimbledon last year before losing to Kvitova.

In men’s play, fourth-seeded Andy Murray of Britain swept to a 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 win over Nikolay Davydenko, a former No. 3-ranked player from Russia who has dropped to No. 47 and lost in the first round for the second year in a row.

Fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga took apart 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

Playing his first match since having a medical procedure on his heart, 10th-?seeded Mardy Fish of the United States served 24 aces and beat Ruben Ramirez-?Hidalgo of Spain 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (1).