“No. 1 is great but I really want to play well,” Williams said. “Maybe this whole thing is teaching me to be patient.”

Daniela Hantuchova beat qualifier Rina Fujiwara of Japan, 6-0, 6-2 to set up a second-round meeting with second-seeded Maria Sharapova, who had a first-round bye.

Serena Williams made her belated return to WTA Tour play in the United States by cruising past Anastasia Rodionova 6-0, 6-0 at the Bank of the West Classic on Tuesday. Williams, ranked 169th, moved smoothly on the court against the overmatched, 105th-ranked Australian, who has lost five straight. “It was me being focused,” Williams said. “I’ve always said if I play my best no one can beat me. Hopefully I can get back to that level.” She will play further tournaments in Cincinnati and Toronto before stepping back onto the big stage at the U.S. Open.

Williams’ opponent in the second round will be Russia’s Maria Kirilenko, who had a surprisingly comfortable 6-2, 6-3 win over sixth-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany. The 25th-ranked Kirilenko, who reached the quarterfinal of this event last year, snapped a 13-match losing streak against the top 20 with her victory over Goerges, but faces a tough task against Williams. “She’s coming back and she’s winning again,” Kirilenko said of Williams. “I need to be focused every minute.”

Germany’s Sabine Lisicki defeated Romania’s Simona Halep, 6-1, 6-2 and will take on Samantha Stosur in the second round; the Australian fourth seed also had a bye. Also getting free passage to the second round was top-seeded Victoria Azarenka. Her opponent will be qualifier Marina Erakovic of New Zealand, who beat Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson, 6-2, 6-1.



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