Venus Williams, 32, who won the Family Circle Cup in 2004, began a run toward another title with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 victory over 19-year-old Monica Puig on Wednesday night on the Billie Jean King Court.
“It’s good to be a veteran,” Williams said. “It means you have all the tricks in your bag. I don’t think about the age difference. You only have time to think about the ball. If you think about anything else, you can get in trouble.”
Williams’ play was encouraging after the recent Sony Open in Miami when she had to withdraw before her third-round match against 20-year-old Sloane Stephens.
She’s taken something off her serves but still comes up with rockets that travel more than 110 mph.
“Sometimes, it goes just as hard,” she said. “I don’t know why because I’m not moving my arm as fast.”
In other matches Wednesday, No. 2 seed and 2011 champion Caroline Wozniacki rolled past Silvia Soler-Espinosa, 6-1, 6-1.
Wozniacki’s victory gives her a date against Andrea Petkovic. Wozniacki and Petkovic were both wild card entrants. Petkovic advanced with a 6-5, 6-2 victory over qualifier Vania King.
Wozniacki needed only 60 minutes to defeat Soler-Espinsoa. Wozniacki won 20 of 26 first service points and 9 of 12 second serve points.
“I felt like I served really well today,” Wozniacki said. “I returned really well. I think playing the first match on clay it’s always difficult to slide and really move unbelievably. I felt like I did a pretty good job out there and I’m pleased with my work.”
Jelena Jankovic, the 2007 champion, rallied for a 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 victory over qualifier Caroline Garcia.
Jankovic had her second-straight marathon match. She defeated Melanie Oudin in three sets on Tuesday in a match that lasted two hours and 55 minutes. Wednesday, she needed two hours and 38 minutes to beat the qualifier.
“Today was a really tough match,” Jankovic said. “My opponent played so well today. I mean, she was serving well, hitting the ball great. I was able to stay strong in that second set and the tie-breaker was really crucial. I mean, it was like 12-10 and she had a couple of match points and I made the aces from second serve on the set point and I played pretty brave then.”
Lucie Safarova, who was runner-up last year, topped Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 7-5, 6-2.
American Madison Keys topped Grace Min, 6-4, 6-3.