Serena Williams, who seized her 14th Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon on Saturday, was preparing for a change of scene this week with her hard-court WTA title defense in Stanford, California.
Organizers said top-seeded Williams would launch her Stanford campaign today, giving her a bit of time to catch her breath after defeating Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska in the women’s singles final on the grass courts of the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
Williams, who also teamed with sister Venus to win the Wimbledon women’s doubles title, suffered through two foot surgeries and blood clots on her lungs in 2010 and last year, before returning to tennis just over a year ago and she seemed eager to ride the momentum of her Wimbledon triumph at the famed Californian university.
“Just let me do a little bit at a time,” she said. “I have never felt better.”
Williams, who has a first-round bye as one of the top four seeds, will face either US wild-card Nicole Gibbs or Thai qualifier Noppawan Lertcheewakarn in her second-round opener.
The 30-year-old American, who has risen to No. 4 in the world rankings, was booked for her first practice session early yesterday as she makes a brief switch from grass to hard courts.
Later this month she will return to London where the 2012 Olympic tennis competition is scheduled to be held at Wimbledon starting on July 28 — one day after the Games’ opening ceremony.
Sandwiched this season between Wimbledon and the Olympic Games, Stanford has suffered a rash of withdrawals.
France’s Marion Bartoli, the 2009 winner, is the second seed, followed by Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova and Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic.
Williams beat Bartoli 7-5, 6-1 in last year’s Stanford final.
Wimbledon semi-finalist Angelique Kerber pulled out with a lower-back complaint and fellow German Sabine Lisicki — a Wimbledon quarter-finalist — withdrew citing an abdominal strain.
Russians Svetlana Kuznetsova with a knee injury and Nadia Petrova with a problematic right wrist also opted out.
China’s Peng Shuai, Romania’s Monica Niculescu, Wimbledon semi-finalist Tamira Paszek, and Americans Christina McHale and Varvara Lepchenko also pulled out citing injuries or illness.
In early action on Monday, Belgian fifth seed Yanina Wickmayer reached the second round with a 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 victory over Taiwan’s Chang Kai-chen, while South African sixth seed Chanelle Scheepers beat Grace Min of the US 6-4, 6-4.
Also on Monday, wild-card Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal beat Australia’s Jarmila Gajdosova 5-7, 6-2, 6-3, with the win coming despite 11 aces from the Australian and 10 double faults by the winner, who next faces Scheepers.
AP, PALERMO, Italy
Last year’s runner-up Polona Hercog of Slovenia was beaten 6-1, 7-6 (10/8) by Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania in the first round of the Italiacom Open on Monday.
Begu, who is ranked 10 spots behind the 63rd-ranked Hercog, saved three set points in the tiebreaker.
Earlier on the red-clay courts at the Country Time Club, seventh seed Alize Cornet of France beat Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia, 6-3, 6-2; Alexandra Cadantu of Romania eliminated Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-2; and Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain defeated Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 6-2, 6-4.
Wimbledon runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska withdrew from the tournament citing respiratory problems, saying that the humid weather in London affected her in Saturday’s final loss to Serena Williams.