Relaxed Williams racking up the wins

Venus Williams arrived at the Pilot Pen today on a roll after winning her last three tournaments.

Venus Williams arrived at the Pilot Pen today on a roll after winning her last three tournaments.

Tendinitis in both wrists kept her out of competition until May, and the downtime gave the 20-year-old star time to think.

"I felt that tennis was a lot more simpler than I was making it out to be," she said. "In reality, tennis is not too complex. There's some strategy, and in my case, a lot of power."

Her 123 mph (198 kph) serve is still the fastest recorded on tour. Williams began her string of wins in style. She overpowered Lindsay Davenport to win Wimbledon. She beat Davenport again two weeks later in Stanford, California, and then won in San Diego, beating Monica Seles in the final.

"Once I started really having fun and making sure I enjoyed the battles, I think that helped me play a lot better," Williams said.

She begins defense of her Pilot Pen title Tuesday, taking on Elena Likhovtseva in a second-round match. Williams holds a 4-0 edge in the series.

Likhovtseva advanced Monday, beating Tathiana Garbin 6-1, 6-3.

"I won't try to out outhit her, that's for sure," Likhovtseva said. "But I'll be able to return all the serves."

In a night match, fifth-seeded Amanda Coetzer beat Karina Habsudova 7-6 (2), 6-4. Coetzer, who defeated Williams in straight sets in Hamburg, Germany, said stronger players are getting to be the norm on tour and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

"I feel like I've lifted my game. Everybody's starting to hit the ball harder. I'm getting used to the big serve," said Coezter, looking for her second victory of the year.

Sixth-seeded Dominique Van Roost advanced with a 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory over Magdalena Maleeva.

Also advancing Monday was Kristina Brandi, a wildcard entry who beat qualifier Anne Kremer 7-6 (3), 6-1. She plays second-seeded Monica Seles Tuesday. Meghann Shaugnessy defeated Ruxandra Dragomir 6-4, 6-1 to set up a match with third-seeded Nathalie Tauziat. Silvija Talaja beat Anne-Gaelle Sidot 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.

Results from the $535,000 Pilot Pen Sanex WTA Tour hard-court tournament:

Singles - First Round

Kristina Brandi, United States, def. Anne Kremer, Luxembourg, 7-6 (3), 6-1. Elena Likhovtseva, Russia, def. Tathiana Garbin, Italy, 6-1, 6-3. Meghann Shaughnessy, United States, def. Ruxandra Dragomir, Romania, 6-4, 6-1. Silvija Talaja, Croatia, def. Anne-Gaelle Sidot, France, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. Dominique Van Roost (6), Belgium, def. Magdalena Maleeva, Bulgaria, 7-6 (2), 6-4. Amanda Coetzer (5), South Africa, def. Karina Habsudova, Slovakia, 7-6 (2), 6-4.

Doubles - First Round

Kveta Hrdlickova, Czech Republic, and Patty Schnyder, Switzerland, def. Sabine Appelmans, Belgium, and Kimberly Po, United States, 6-2, 6-1. Leizel Horn, South Africa, and Laura Montalvo, Argentina, def. Jelena Dokic, Australia, and Jelena Kostanic, Croatia, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.