KIRRILY Sharpe might never be the same again after her visit to

Wimbledon yesterday. She arrived just after midday clutching her rackets

and outrageous dreams, and in less time than it takes to scoff a helping

of strawberries and cream she was on her way home again, biting her

bottom lip and holding back the tears, writes James Traynor.

Her good fortune in winning through the qualifiers at Roehampton last

week turned out, in fact, to be a dreadful misfortune. The 20-year-old

Australian went on to Centre Court with the defending champion and top

seed, Steffi Graf, who was in no mood to hang around.

She dallied only 38 minutes with Sharpe, who was able to win just 18

points as she was driven all over the court to a 6-0, 6-0 defeat. It was

nothing personal. It was expediency.

Earlier in the day while practising, Graf had been upset by a German

supporter, who is in the habit of shouting things at her. The same man

was sitting in the front row of the Centre Court when she arrived with

Sharpe, and when he started calling to her during the first set, Graf

had to approach the umpire.

''I was being disturbed and I asked the umpire to tell him to be quiet

during play,'' she said. ''He happened to be in Paris a couple of weeks

ago, too.

''It doesn't hurt me that he follows me around, there's nothing I can

do about it. I was surprised he was there again today, but I don't take

it too seriously.''

Asked if the German spectator, who was removed from the complex by the

police, had been abusive, she said she had no desire to talk about him

any more. Graf, who has just turned 24, seems to attract a strange kind

of fan, and a couple of years ago one young man cut his wrists in front

of her on a practice court.

Then, a couple of months ago, a deranged fan stabbed Monica Seles

during a match in Hamburg because she had taken over the world No.1

ranking from Graf.

Meanwhile, the other victim, Miss Sharpe, was trying to come to terms

with her thrashing. She is ranked No.231 in the world, but the gap in

quality between the two players seemed much wider, with Graf hitting

winners at will despite a foot injury which had been causing her pain

before she played.

However, she had no problem with it during the match and apart from

the spectator, the thing that gave her most trouble was the ribbon

holding back her hair. It kept working its way loose, which was more

than her opponent could do from her own predicament. Perhaps she needed

someone to shout at her. Someone to make her raise her game to a higher


Then again, probably if someone had even called out something

supportive like: ''Come on, Kirrily, don't give up,'' she most likely

would have lapsed into floods of tears and that wouldn't have done at

all. Kirrily apart, it continues to be fine and dry here.

Martina Navratilova had to wait until Boris Becker's struggle against

Marc Goellner was over before she could get to work against Michelle

Jaggard-Lai, but when she started swinging there was no stopping her.

The woman who is here in search of a tenth singles championship won 6-2,


Jo Durie, Britain's No.1, couldn't do too much after an encouraging

start against the world's No.104, Elizabeth Smylie on Court 14, and

after her 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 defeat complained about her legs, particularly

the left one, which has been causing her pain for some time.

''I knew I had to win in two sets,'' she said. ''My body was telling

me, 'please, two sets,' and I knew I didn't have enough strength in my

legs to win in three.''

While she was lamenting two other British players, Monique Javer and

Clare Wood, were celebrating their first-round wins against Hungary's

Andrea Temesvari and Kimiko Date, of Japan, respectively. Javer won 6-2,

6-2 and Wood cruised through 6-1, 6-1.

Wood's reward will be a second-round match on one of the main courts.

That's the good news, the bad is she meets Graf.

Before their game, perhaps she should seek out Sharpe and ask if there

is anything that can be done to stop the German from making her look

foolish. ''Certainly, just don't show up,'' Kirrily might tell her, but

Clare's British you know and she'll be there.

Javer will play the No.16 seed, Nathalie Tauziat, who beat Rennae

Stubbs 7-5, 6-4.