STANFORD, Calif. (www.mubadalasvc.com) – Returning to the court for the first time since early exits in singles and doubles at Wimbledon, 17-time Grand Slam champion and World No. 1 Serena Williams overcame a slow start in her Bank of the West Classic opener.
The tournament’s No. 1 seed, Williams required just 64 minutes to defeat Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 6-2 on Wednesday night. Williams, who is seeking her third Bank of the West Classic title after back-to-back crowns in 2011-12, last competed at Wimbledon, losing in the third round of singles and retiring in the second round of doubles due to a viral illness.
In the first set, Williams and Pliskova alternated service games until 5-5, when Williams quickly converted back-to-back games. Williams, who powered home six of her nine aces in the first set, built a 3-0 lead in the second frame and put Pliskova away from there.
Williams, who owns 60 career WTA singles crowns, is gunning for her fourth of the year after claiming the hardware in Brisbane, Miami and Rome.
No. 8 seed Andrea Petkovic experienced little trouble in putting away 16-year-old qualifier Naomi Osaka 6-2, 6-2 earlier in the afternoon. No. 2 seed Agnieszka Radwanska wasn’t as lucky, dropping a hard-fought 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 decision to Varvara Lepchenko in a match that lasted just over 2.5 hours.
Qualifier Sachia Vickery continued her impressive tournament run, rallying for a 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-1 victory over Monica Puig in the first match of the day. Wednesday’s three-setter represented the first challenging match of the tournament for Vickery, who had won three consecutive straight-set matches while surrendering just 13 games combined over that stretch.
Three doubles matches were completed, with the third-seeded duo of Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro advancing thanks to a 6-0, 7-5 triumph.
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ABOUT THE BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC: The Bank of the West Classic is the longest-running women-only professional tennis tournament in the world and is the first stop of the Emirates Airline US Open Series. Owned and operated by IMG, the WTA Premier event features a 28-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles draw with total prize money of $710,000. Held on Stanford University’s campus at Taube Family Tennis Stadium since 1997, former champions include: Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Andrea Jaeger, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters.
ABOUT THE BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC: Founded in 1874, $68 billion-asset Bank of the West (www.bankofthewest.com), Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender, offers a wide range of personal, commercial, wealth management and international banking services. The bank operates more than 600 retail and commercial banking locations in 19 Western and Midwestern states. Bank of the West is a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, which has a presence in 80 countries with 190,000 employees.
ABOUT THE EMIRATES AIRLINE US OPEN SERIES: Now in its 11th season, the Emirates Airline US Open Series continues to serve as a true regular season of hard court tennis, linking eight summer tournaments to the US Open. Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams won the 2013 US Open and Emirates Airline US Open Series men’s and women’s titles, each earning a record tennis paycheck of $3.6 million. Roger Federer (2007) and Kim Clijsters (2005) also accomplished the feat of winning the Emirates Airline US Open Series and US Open singles title within the same year.