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Williams sisters in cruise mode

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CHARLESTON — Serena and Venus Williams made a successful transition to clay on Tuesday, easing through their opening matches with straight-set victories at the WTA Tour’s Charleston tennis tournament in South Carolina, US.

Fifth seed Serena, the 2008 Charleston champion, hammered 11 aces in overpowering last year’s runner-up Elena Vesnina, 6-3, 6-4, in a second-round match at the $740 000 event.

“I really love the clay. I feel like it suits my game,” said Serena, who was playing her first match on the surface in almost two years. “I don’t have to go crazy and move my feet so much.

“And it’s no different from hard or grass — I should be able to play the same and do the same, if not better, because I have more time.”

World No 87 Venus, who returned to the tour last month in Miami after being out seven months due to illness, needed just 79 minutes to dispatch qualifier Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic, 6-4, 6-3, in the first round.

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus is fresh off an impressive comeback showing in Miami, where she won her first four matches of her return.
“Miami was definitely a whirlwind,” Venus said on Tuesday. “A lot of times I ended up the victor at the end of these matches and I didn’t really know how it happened.”

The Williams sisters did not play in last month’s prestigious Indian Wells tournament because of a boycott that began in 2001 when fans booed them.

Venus received a wild card invitation into the draw of Charleston, which she won in 2004. She booked a clash with seventh-seeded Serbian Jelena Jankovic, who enjoyed a first-round bye. —Reuters

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