STANFORD, Calif. (www.mubadalasvc.com) – Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams looked very comfortable on Tuesday night playing in one of her most familiar settings.
Williams, who has claimed two titles and notched five runner-up finishes in 11 previous tournament appearances, cruised past qualifier Paula Kania 6-3, 6-2 on Tuesday night in the main draw of the 2014 Bank of the West Classic at Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
Pounding home seven aces while winning all nine of her service games, Williams was competing in her first event since a three-set loss to Petra Kvitova in the third round at Wimbledon last month. Williams raced out to a 4-1 lead in both sets against Kania, who was making her tournament debut after surviving two rounds of qualifying over the weekend.
Of the three seeded players in action on Tuesday, only No. 5 Ana Ivanovic emerged, coming away with a 7-6 (2), 6-1 victory over Sabine Lisicki in what was billed to be one of the most competitive first-round contests. Trailing 6-5 in the first set, Ivanovic won back-to-back games against Lisicki, who produced the fastest recorded serve in WTA history with a 131 mph offering in the 11th game of the first set.
Defending champion and No. 6 seed Dominika Cibulkova was upset 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 by Garbine Muguruza while No. 7 seed Carla Suarez Navarro suffered a 6-3, 7-5 setback against Monica Puig.
Qualifier Carol Zhao registered her first career WTA main draw victory, punching her ticket to the second round when Yanina Wickmayer retired due to a viral illness one game into the second set. It may not have mattered though against the sophomore All-American from Stanford, as Zhao had taken the first set 6-2 and led 1-0 before Wickmayer elected to retire.
Daniela Hantuchova put away Paula Ormaechea 6-3, 6-4 in the nightcap.
In doubles play, the No. 2-seeded duo of Alla Kudryavtseva and Anastasia Rodionova needed only 39 minutes to defeat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and Karolina Pliskova 6-1, 6-0.
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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.