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Serena wins first clay match in two years

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Originally published on: 04/04/12 10:20

The last time Serena Williams played on clay she squandered a match point and fell to Sam Stosur in three sets in the quarter-finals of the 2010 French Open. Almost two years on, the 30-year-old American returned to the dirt in Charleston and played like she’d never left the surface, defeating world No.56 Elena Vesnina 6-3 6-4.

A champion in Charleston when she last featured at the tournament in 2008, Willliams broke last year’s finalist three times for victory. “I forgot I hadn’t played on clay in so long,” said Williams, who won her first and only French Open title in 2002. “I really love the clay. 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.”

The 13-time Grand Slam champion is gunning for title No.40 in Charleston this week and has high hopes of winning her first tournament since taking the Rogers Cup title in Toronto last August. “It would be special to do it here,” she said. “I think Venus has 41 or something like that, 46, whatever. She’s ahead of me, so it would be nice to get one any time soon. We’ll see.”

Sister Venus actually has 43 titles – the highest tally of an active player and two ahead of Kim Clijsters on 41 – but if she wants to add another victory this week the 31-year-old may have to beat Serena in the semi-finals. The Williams sisters have played 23 times on tour, with Serena holding a 13-10 advantage in their all-time meetings. Serena has won their last four encounters – all in 2009 – and leads 6-2 in their meetings in Grand Slam finals.

Serena fell as low as No.175 last year but this week climbed back into the top 10 for the first time since May 2010 after her quarter-final showing in Miami. Venus meanwhile, climbed from No.134 to No.87 after reaching the last eight in Miami in her first tournament since the 2011 US Open.

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