STANFORD, California, USA 10TH July – Serena Williams, who seized her 14th Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon on Saturday, was preparing for a change of scene this week with her hard-court WTA title defence at Stanford.
Organizers said top-seeded Williams would launch her Stanford campaign on Wednesday, giving her a bit of time to catch her breath after defeating Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska in the women’s singles final on the grass courts of the All England Club.
Williams, who also teamed with sister Venus to win the Wimbledon women’s doubles title, suffered through two foot surgeries and blood clots on her lungs in 2010-2011 before returning to tennis just over a year ago.
And she seemed eager to ride the momentum of her Wimbledon triumph at the famed Californian university.
“Just let me do a little bit at a time,” she said. “I have never felt better.”
Williams, who has a first-round bye as one of the top four seeds, will face either US wild card Nicole Gibbs or Thai qualifier Noppawan Lertcheewakarn in her second-round opener.
The 30-year-old American, who has risen to number four in the world rankings, was booked for her first practice session early Tuesday as she makes a brief switch from grass to hard courts.
Later this month she will return to London where the 2012 Olympic tennis competition will be held at Wimbledon starting on July 28 — one day after the Games’ opening ceremony.
Sandwiched this season between Wimbledon and the Summer Games, Stanford has suffered a rash of withdrawals.
France’s Marion Bartoli, the 2009 winner, is the second seed, followed by Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova and Serbian Jelena Jankovic.
Williams beat Bartoli 7-5, 6-1 in last year’s Stanford final.
Wimbledon semi-finalist Angelique Kerber pulled out with a lower back complaint and fellow German Sabine Lisicki — a Wimbledon quarter-finalist, withdrew citing an abdominal strain.
Russians Svetlana Kuznetsova with a knee injury and Nadia Petrova with a problematic right wrist also opted out.
China’s Peng Shuai, Romanian Monica Niculescu, Wimbledon semi-finalist Tamira Paszek and Americans Christina McHale and Varvara Lepchenko also pulled out citing injuries or illness.
In early action on Monday, Belgian fifth seed Yanina Wickmayer reached the second round with a 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 victory over Chang Kai-Chen of Taiwan.
South African sixth seed Chanelle Scheepers beat American Grace Min 6-4, 6-4.
Wild card Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal beat Australian Jarmila Gajdosova 5-7, 6-2, 6-3. The win came despite 11 aces from the Australian and 10 double-faults from the winner, who next faces Scheepers.