Wimbledon champion Venus Williams returned to the WTA San Diego Classic for the first time in five years on Monday, picking up where she left off with a victory.
The 10th seed, who dominated the event from 2000 through 2002 with three trophies on the trot, began her eighth campaign with a 6-3, 6-0 first-round victory over Russian Anastasia Rodionova in just 50 minutes.
Williams was on court for the first time since winning two rubbers in a losing US effort this month in Fed Cup against Russia in Vermont the week after earning her fourth Wimbledon crown.
The fiery Rodionova was on best behavior after being fined 5,000 dollars as she became only the second woman to be defaulted in WTA history.
The scene occurred in Cincinnati this month as the 25-year-old, ranked 81st, hit the ball towards spectators cheering for her opponent.
Williams earned her 15th victory in succession at the event, being played for the last year after a WTA calendar shake-up. She stands 26-4 at the tournament.
"It's good to be back," said the only Williams sister in the field, her younger sibling Serena sidelined by a thumb injury sustained at Wimbledon.
"I won here three times in a row, but then I couldn't come back. I love playing in California in the summer because I'm from here."
Thai veteran Tamarine Tanasugarn lined up as a second-round opponent for top seeded holder Maria Sharapova, booking he place over American Laura Granville 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
Second-seeded Serb Jelena Jankovic will start against Vania King, who beat fellow American youngster Asia Muhammed 7-6 (7/2), 6-0.
Seventh seed Martina Hingis, testing a back injury which led to an early Wimbledon loss, will face off in the second round after a bye against Michaella Krajicek.
Elena Dementieva, the number nine, joined Williams as a winner as she took out Catalina Castano 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 while number 11 Swiss Patty Schnyder beat American Jamea Jackson 6-2, 6-1.
An unexpected trip to the Wimbledon final has whetted the appetite of French fifth seed Marion Bartoli for more of the same.
"I have to reach another step in my career," the world number 12 said. "I want to be top-10 and maybe top five. But I need to be more concentrated on the big stage."
Fifth seed Bartoli's 6-4, 6-1 loss to Venus Williams in the Wimbledon final was followed by a decompression after playing almost uninterruptedly for two months.
But when the 22-year-old ventured out onto the summer hardcourts last week at Stanford, a virus compromised her chances on the way to an opening loss to American Lilia Osterloh.
"Everything will be more difficult now, I have new challenges," said Bartoli, who called her Wimbledon performance was "a dream come true."
"I've been there once but I'd like to be there many more times."