Williams posts straight-sets win in Hobart first round

Updated: January 8, 2007, 9:13 AM ET
Associated Press

HOBART, Australia -- Former top-ranked Serena Williams beat Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden 6-4, 6-0 in a first-round match at the Hobart International on Monday, ending a four-month injury layoff.

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Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, led 5-0 in the first set before allowing Arvidsson back into the match to 5-4, then easily won the final set. Despite four double-faults, Williams won in 55 minutes.

Ranked 95th and on the comeback from ankle and knee problems, Williams, who has not played since last year's U.S. Open, said her best was yet to come.

"The whole match I didn't play my best," Williams said. "I'm a little rusty ... I only played four tournaments in 2006, so I think there's a little bit of rust coming out."

Williams wants her serve working better before she heads to Melbourne for the Australian Open next week.

Serena Williams
AP Photo/Peter MathewFormer No. 1 Serena Williams, now ranked 95th, dispatched Sofia Arvidsson in Hobart in her first match in four months.

"I just want to work on my serve and be able to serve a little faster by the time I get to Melbourne," she said.

Williams is scheduled to play Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in the second round at Hobart on Tuesday.

Earlier, Australian Alicia Molik overcame a slow start before advancing to the second round with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 win over Jelena Kostanic of Croatia.

Molik, on a comeback from an ear-related illness that caused her to lose her balance, needed a wild card to get into the Hobart event.

"I made too many errors in the first set, and Jelena hit too many winners," Molik said. "But I was confident I would tighten up as the match went on. The windy conditions made it difficult for both players."

Defending Hobart champion Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands was beaten by France's Severine Bremond 3-6, 6-1, 6-0.

Bremond received treatment for a leg injury at the end of the first set.

"I strained my leg in practice yesterday," Bremond said. "I wasn't able to put any pressure on it until I had it bandaged."

In another first-round match, India's Sania Mirza defeated fourth-seeded Maria Kirilenko of Russia 6-4, 6-4.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press