Wimbledon winner Serena Williams swept past tenacious teenager Nicole Gibbs 6-2, 6-1 on Wednesday in her opening match at the WTA Stanford Classic.
World No. 4 Williams was fighting off jet lag as well as reigning US college champion Gibbs, an American ranked 403rd in the world and a junior at Stanford University, host of the hard-court event.
It took defending champion Williams, who enjoyed a first-round bye, only 62 minutes to advance, even though Gibbs — playing in her first WTA main draw — saved three match points over two games, before going down to defeat.
“I couldn’t quite believe I was playing today, but I’m healthy, I have a heartbeat, so there was no reason not to,” Williams said. “I’m sure I’ll feel better after a day off. I’ve been waking up at 2am. I was sluggish today, but it was fine to get that win over with.”
Williams said she had no trouble adjusting to the hot weather in northern California.
“The weather is definitely different than London with all that gloom and clouds,” she said. “My body is used to the conditions here.”
Williams, winner of 14 career Grand Slam singles titles, next plays a quarter-final against South African sixth seed Chanelle Scheepers, who beat Portugal’s Michelle Larcher de Brito 6-3, 6-4.
Coco Vandeweghe of the US, ranked 120th in the world, produced the first big upset of the week with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic — who double-faulted to set up the match point.
The defeat was the third straight in an opening round for the Serb, who just began working with her third coach this season in an effort to rescue a ranking which has fallen to 20th since she topped the WTA list in 2008.
Belgian fifth seed Yanina Wickmayer ended the British challenge for the week with her 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 defeat of Heather Watson.
Williams returned to California on Monday, arriving 48 hours after winning her fifth Wimbledon title. She will return to Europe late next week to train in Paris, before traveling to the London Olympics, which begin on July 27.
The 30-year-old American, saying she is in the best shape of her career, was pleased to get her job done against Gibbs.
“She played really well. She moves well and doesn’t quit,” Williams said of Gibbs. “That’s the best quality you can have as a tennis player. It’s good to see such Americans coming up. She played a good game and was focused all the time. I was surprised that she didn’t have many nerves. It was not a beat-down for me. She really held her own.”
AP, PALERMO, Italy
Top seed Sara Errani required little more than an hour to defeat 108th-ranked Patricia Mayr-Achleitner of Austria 6-3, 6-2 on Wednesday and reach the Italiacom Open quarter-finals.
Errani was the runner-up at the French Open last month and is ranked a career-high No. 9 this week. She won the clay tournament in 2008.
Meanwhile, 85th-ranked Alexandra Cadantu of Romania upset seventh seed Alize Cornet of France 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 and next faces Errani.
Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania rallied to beat Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, while Spanish qualifier Estrella Cabeza Candela eliminated Italian wild-card Maria Elena Camerin 7-6 (7/3), 7-5.
In a first-round match suspended due to darkness on Tuesday, eighth seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic beat Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain 7-5, 7-6 (7/3).