Serena Williams still has a ?sizzling serve and the ability to track down difficult shots, gliding with ease from one side of the baseline to the other.
Williams is 30 years old but showed no signs of slowing down Tuesday night as she approaches 40.
Forty career titles, that is. Williams was the main attraction at the Family Circle Cup Stadium on Tuesday night when she made her first appearance in Charleston since winning the title in 2008.
Williams was successful as she topped 2011 finalist Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-4. Williams, who played on clay for the first time in more than a year, registered a 120 mph serve against the Russian and showed great movement.
Vesnina broke Williams’ serve in the second set to make it 3-3, but Williams responded by chasing ?down a couple of Vesnina’s ?well-placed shots to take a 4-3 ?lead and celebrated by pumping her fists.
After that, it was all cloak and cadaver as Williams improved to 13-4 in Charleston.
Williams was glad to be back in Charleston.
“I really love it here,” she said. “I have so many supporters here, and I absolutely love the food here — too much. Like, unfortunately, I had some banana pudding before I went out, and I don’t know why I did that. It was so good, though. I was just like, ‘Oh, my gosh.’ I keep tweeting how I’m just having so much trouble with the food. So that’s my Achilles heel: soul food and southern food. Maybe that’s why it’s been four years since I’ve been here.”
Williams recorded 11 aces, including the serve that hit 120 mph. She has the top serve on the WTA Tour this season, reaching 122 mph in Miami. Sister Venus, who beat Iveta Benesova 6-4, 6-3 earlier Tuesday, had a serve of 121 in ?Miami.
“I feel good,” Williams said. “I hit a lot of aces, and I don’t know why. I pretty much just go for my serve and just do the best I can. So I’m glad I’m getting some aces. It really helps to get a free point, especially on the last point, you definitely want to hit an ace. It’s a lot easier — believe me.”
Follow Phil Bowman on Twitter: @pandcphil