Williams posts straight-sets win in Hobart first round

1/8/2007 - Tennis

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.

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.

"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

"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.