Serena Williams dispatched Francesca Schiavone, 6-0, 6-1, in the first round of the U.S. Open Monday night, in a game played under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.
With the win, Serena Williams, 31, joined her older sister Venus in the second round — only the second time this year that both players have advanced past the opening round of a Grand Slam event. That last happened in the Australian Open, seven months ago.
Faced with a dominant performance by the world No. 1 Serena Williams — and facing yet another break point in their match — Schiavone at one point jokingly took comfort on the court by seeking, and receiving, a hug from a ball boy along the court's back line.
Venus Williams, 33, advanced by beating Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, 6-1, 6-2, Monday. In a sign of where the former world No. 1 player is in terms of her health and career, Williams' win over the 12-seeded Flipkens is seen as an upset. She lost to Flipkens in Toronto earlier this month.
In May, Venus lost in the first round of the French Open, her last major tournament. She withdrew from Wimbledon shortly before the tournament began earlier this summer, blaming problems with her back. She has also struggled with a lack of energy and other problems stemming from Sjogren's Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes joint pain and other ailments.
"I stay positive because I know I can play great tennis. Sometimes you just have to go through more than what you want to go through," Venus Williams said after Monday's match. "Sometimes you have to have losses."
In the second round, Venus will face Jie Zheng of China. Serena will be matched with Kazakhstan's Galina Voskoboeva. The two sisters are also entered to play doubles at this year's Open.
Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.