STANFORD (CBS / AP) — Serena Williams wants to stay healthy.
Her skills and determination will take care of the rest.
The former world No. 1 player beat Australia’s Anastasia Rodionova 6-0, 6-0, Tuesday in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic.
Williams, troubled by a right foot injury the past year, played on American soil for the first time since reaching the semifinal of the 2009 U.S. Open. It’s her third event since winning at Wimbledon last year.
“Personally I have never taken this much time off,” said Williams, who missed 49 weeks before returning at Eastbourne. “This is totally different from any other time.”
Williams, ranked 169th, moved smoothly on the court against the overmatched, 105th-ranked Rodionova, 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 figures to stick to a strict schedule the rest of the summer, which means stops in Cincinnati and Toronto before stepping back into the big stage at the U.S. Open.
“No. 1 is great but I really want to play well,” Williams said. “Maybe this whole thing is teaching me to be patient.”
In other first-round matches, Russian Maria Kirilenko beat sixth-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany 6-2, 6-3; seventh-seeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, playing her first match with a new coach and fitness trainer, was knocked off by Japan’s Ayumi Morita, 6-3, 7-5; Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova beat newcomer Rina Fujiwara of Japan, 6-0, 6-2; Germany’s Sabine Lisicki defeated Romania’s Simona Halep, 6-1, 6-2; qualifier Marina Erakovic of New Zealand beat Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson, 6-2, 6-1; and Poland’s Urszula Radwanska topped Ukraine’s Olga Savchuk 6-2, 6-4 in a matchup of qualifiers.
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. She’ll play Williams.
“She’s coming back and she’s winning again,” Kirilenko said of Williams. “I need to be focused every minute.”
Kirilenko is a five-time WTA Tour singles champion and is looking for her first title since 2008.
Goerges, ranked 20th, won her first Premier WTA singles title at Stuttgart earlier this year.
The 50th-ranked Morita had lost in the first round in her three previous appearances at Stanford, each time to the eventual champion. She’ll meet Urszula Radwanska in the second round.
Ivanovic, a former world No. 1, began working with coach Nigel Sears right after Wimbledon. She also returned to fitness trainer Scott Byrnes, with whom she worked with between July 2006 and July 2009.
Hantuchova, ranked 21st, has won 16 of her past 21 matches. The former world No. 5 reached the third round of Wimbledon.
Fujiwara made her WTA Tour main draw debut with the loss. The 19-year-old played in a single ITF event last year, earning $343. She made $5,200 for qualifying at Stanford.
Lisicki, ranked 26th, is coming off a semifinal finish at Wimbledon. She had an 11-match winning streak snapped by Maria Sharapova and has won 12 of 13.
The 55th-ranked Halep reached the semifinals at Bucharest last week before making the 6,447-mile trip to Stanford.
Erakovic, ranked 121st, has won 10 of her past 12 matches after beating the 59th-ranked Arvidsson, who has lost in the first round of four of her past five tournaments.
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