STANFORD, Calif. — Venus Williams kicked off her summer hard-court season with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Paula Kania in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic on Tuesday night. The victory sets up a blockbuster second-round match against No. 10 Victoria Azarenka on Thursday.
"In terms of match play, I'm probably just a little bit ahead," Williams said.
Azarenka was sidelined with injury for much of the season and has played just 13 matches to Williams' 26.
"Hopefully that will work in my advantage," Williams said. "But [Azarenka] is always a tough competitor. I'm sure she's hitting the ball well so I have to be focused and on my toes."
Williams has never lost to Azarenka in three meetings, and the Stanford conditions have always suited her well. She has made the final seven of the eight times she has played the tournament since it moved to Palo Alto.
Williams also addressed her sister Serena's bizarre retirement from their second-round doubles match at Wimbledon. Serena said she was ill before she took the court but didn't realize she was unfit to play until the match began.
"That was really challenging," Venus said. "I shouldn't have let her play. It's hard when you're in the moment because I know how I am and I don't want anyone telling me not to play. I wanted her to put the racket away, but I tried not to be bossy. It was just a tough situation for both of us. She kept saying, 'I wanna try, I wanna try, I wanna try.' So she tricked me into letting her try. I'm just glad she walked off the court. Sometimes you have to have courage to walk on and sometimes you have to have the courage to walk off too."