Originally created 03/27/04

Williams' win is eye-catching

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. - Resplendent rather than rusty, Serena Williams looked like a costumed superhero and played pretty well, too.

She unveiled a sleek, new, white and silver outfit, smacked aces, pumped her fist and won in 42 minutes.

Serena's back, ending an eight-month layoff by easily advancing at the Nasdaq-100 Open with a 6-1, 6-0 victory Friday over qualifier Marta Marrero.

The match was the first for Williams since she earned her sixth Grand Slam title by beating older sister Venus at Wimbledon last July. She had been sidelined since undergoing knee surgery Aug. 1.

"I was very nervous going out there," she said. "Then I decided that I'm just going to go out there and do the best I can."

During the layoff, Williams designed clothes and signed a new Nike contract, and curiosity regarding the state of her game was rivaled by anticipation of her latest outfit. She wore a metallic silver warmup coat and a white and silver sleeveless dress with a wide corset that glistened in the Florida sun.

"Hollywood glam," she said. "Its corset design makes me look very, very slim."

Now that Williams is back, much of her competition is missing. She has slipped to No. 6 in the rankings, but the five players ahead of her - including top-ranked Justine Henin-Hardenne - are all absent from the Key Biscayne field, leaving Williams seeded No. 1.

A potential opponent in the final is No. 2-seeded Venus Williams, scheduled to open her bid for a fourth Key Biscayne title today.

Also in the mix is No. 4 Jennifer Capriati, who opened by beating Klara Koukalova, 6-0, 6-1. No. 6 Ai Sugiyama lost to Maria Vento-Kabchi 6-1, 7-5.

In men's second-round matches, Goran Ivanisevic retired because of shoulder pain after losing a set to Rafael Nadal.

No. 16 Mardy Fish was eliminated by qualifier Julien Benneteau, and No. 7 Tim Henman was beaten by Jurgen Melzer.


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