Serena makes winning clay comeback

Serena Williams is through to the third round of the Family Circle Cup in Charleston after defeating Russian Elena Vesnina

Story highlights

  • Serena Williams wins first clay court match in almost two years
  • She beat Russian qualifier Elena Vesnina 6-3 6-4
  • Williams to face either Marina Erakovic or Anna Tatishvili in third round
  • Venus Williams continues campaign in second round

Serena Williams is looking forward to the new clay season after scoring her first win on the surface in almost two years.

The fifth seed is hoping her decisive win over Russia's Elena Vesnina at the season's clay court opener in Charleston will help her build up to the French Open starting late May.

Williams last played on clay at Roland Garros in 2010. But that didn't stop her defeating Vesnina 6-3 6-4 on Tuesday.

The American fired 11 aces and broke serve three times against the U.S. event's 2011 finalist Vesnina. The win takes her through to the third round of the WTA's Family Circle Cup, where she he will next face either New Zealander Marina Erakovic or Georgian Anna Tatishvili.

The last time Williams played at Charleston was in 2008, when she won the title.

"I really love the clay," Williams said on the WTA website.

"I feel like it suits my game. I don't have to go crazy and move my feet so much. And it's no different from hard or grass -- I should be able to play the same and do the same, if not better, because I have more time."

Williams' 11th ace came at the most critical time -- match point. The former world number one, who is back in the top 10 after making the quarterfinals in Miami last week, admitted she managed to beat Vesnina despite eating too much before the match.

"Unfortunately I had some banana pudding before I went out. I don't know why I did that. It was so good though," she said.

"I keep tweeting how I'm having so much trouble with the food. That's actually my Achilles heel, soul food and southern food. Maybe that's why it's been four years since I've been here."

Her sister Venus also made her clay return earlier on Tuesday, defeating the Czech Republic's Iveta Benesova 6-4, 6-3.

Venus, who won the tournament in 2004, is currently 87th in the world after a long absence due to illness. She made hard work of dispatching Benesova in little under one-and-a-half hours.

The victory put Williams into the second round as she continues her recovery from Sjogren syndrome, an auto-immune disorder.

Australian second seed Sam Stosur joined Serena in the third round after defeating American wildcard Jamie Hampton 6-0 7-5.

Russian fourth seed Vera Zvonareva also went through after beating Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko 6-1 6-1.

Her eighth-seeded compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova came from behind to defeat Eleni Daniilidou 3-6 6-4 6-4 to also earn a place in the third round.

However Spanish tenth seed Anabel Medina Garrigues became the first high-profile casualty of the tournament, losing 7-5 6-3 to 98th ranked Australian Anastasia Rodionova.


    • Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.

      What does 2015 hold for Rafa?

      Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
    • LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his long time girlfriend Kim Sears arrive at Buckingham Palace on October 17, in London, England. Murray will become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and receive his medal from the Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

      Love game: Andy Murray to tie knot

      The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
    • Despite being forced to retire at the age of 24 due to health problems, Lacoste remained in the game and went on start the "Lacoste" brand in 1933, which specialised in tennis products. The inspiration for the company's logo came from his nickname as a player, "le crocodile."

      'Crocodile' who broke all the rules

      His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
    • Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

      Serena savors U.S. Open win

      Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
    • American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.

      The amazing life of Althea Gibson

      Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
    • Courting couple at match point

      "I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
    • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: Tennis / Frauen: Wimbledon 2004, London; Finale; Siegerin Maria SHARAPOVA / RUS 03.07.04. (Photo by Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

      'Baby' Sharapova's big moment

      It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
    • 'Swiss Miss' follows mom's lead

      Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.