DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Top-seeded Serena Williams dropped the first four games before recovering for a three-set victory over Sara Errani of Italy in the second round of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Tuesday.
The Australian Open champion won 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 at the Aviation Club. Her sister Venus had a much easier time defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkov of Russia 6-0, 6-1.
The tournament has been overshadowed by the Emirates' refusal to grant a visa to Israeli player Shahar Peer. WTA tour CEO Larry Scott has said the event could be taken off next year's schedule for violating the principle that sports and politics should not mix.
The event's organizers said that security fears were behind the decision to deny Peer's visa.
Serena Williams, who pulled out of the semifinals of last week's Open GDF Suez because of a knee injury, said the knee "held up well" against Errani, but "I got off to a slow start ... just trying to get used to the conditions, and I did not really like the ball being used here.
"But I never doubted that I will win. Even when I was 4-0 down in the first set, I told myself I am just two breaks down and I can still win the set."
Dinara Safina, who lost in the Australian Open final, was beaten by 58th-ranked Virginia Razzano of France 6-4, 6-2. Third-seeded Jelena Jankovic advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Monica Niculescu of Romania.