The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Serena makes winning return

Los Angeles: World No. 1 Serena Williams returned to work on Thursday after a vacation of nearly six weeks, opening her defence of her WTA Championship crown with a 6-2, 6-2 demolition of Anna Smashnova.

Joining Serena in the final eight was third-seeded compatriot Jennifer Capriati, the Australian Open champion overcoming a slow start to tame Italy’s Silvia Farina Elia 7-5, 6-1.

With a successful defence of the title she captured last year in Germany, Serena can cap off a memorable campaign — which includes Grand Slam triumphs at the French, US Open and Wimbledon — by becoming the first woman to win $4 million in a single season.

Serena will now meet Yugoslavia’s Jelena Dokic, who advanced with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Russian Anastasia Myskina.

Despite having not played since lifting her season-leading eighth title six weeks ago, Serena needed only a few games to shake off the rust and overpowered Smashnova in just 53 minutes.

“I guess I felt a bit rusty today,” conceded Serena. “I had a few errors too many. It’s just a matter of focussing mentally and the tougher the opponent it automatically clicks in.

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