The 29-year-old Serb, the holder of 12 Grand Slams after clinching a first French Open earlier this month, is on target for the record books.
A fourth Wimbledon title would make him just the second man since Don Budge in 1938 to win five straight majors. It would also put him three-quarters of the way to becoming the first since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete the calendar Grand Slam. Top seed Djokovic, who holds all four majors, goes on to face France’s Adrian Mannarino for a place in the last 32.
“The first nine games were flawless,” said Djokovic, who raced out into a 6-0, 3-0 lead before Ward, ranked at 177, steadied the ship. “James had a few nerves but he was playing better in the second set. Overall it was a solid performance for me. It’s always special to come back to the cradle of our sport.”
Djokovic has won six of the last eight Grand Slams, taking him to a career tally of 12 -- within two of Rafael Nadal’s mark and five behind Roger Federer’s record. Federer, whose last major triumph was at Wimbledon in 2012 when he won his seventh title at the All England Club, begins later Monday against Argentina’s world number 51 Guido Pella.
Federer, 34, has been runner-up to Djokovic for the last two years and is attempting to become the oldest ever Wimbledon champion in modern times.