Williams advances at Acura

Carlsbad, July 31:

Venus Williams bounced back from a slow start in her first tournament since winning Wimbledon to defeat Anastassia Rodionova 6-3, 6-0 in a first-round match at the Acura Classic.

Williams, the six-time Grand Slam champion, needed just 50 minutes to finish off her Russian opponent. Williams was playing her first tournament since defeating France’s Marion Bartoli in straight sets to win her fourth Wimbledon title on July 7.

In the other night match, No 13 Frenchwoman Tatiana Golovin beat Gisela Dulko of Argentina 6-1, 2-6, 6-2. Earlier, ninth-seeded Elena Dementieva survived a scare as she rebounded for a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 win over Catalina Castano.

Dementieva, the highest seed to play on the tournament’s opening day, struggled against her wild-card opponent from Colombia. But the Russian blew through the final set in impressive fashion to advance.

In the other matches involving seeded players, No 11 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland defeated American Jamea Jackson, 6-2, 6-1, and 14th-seeded Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine was pushed to three sets before beating China’s Shuai Peng, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Williams, the winner of this event from 2000-2002, is coming off an injury-marred 2006 season that also slowed her at the start of the year. But the former world No 1 has rebounded and her ranking has improved from No 54 at the beginning of the season to No 17.