Venus content with losing serve record

STANFORD, Calif. -- Venus Williams lost a tennis record Tuesday, but she still felt very good after winning her first-round match at the Bank of the West Classic -- 20 years after she made her professional debut at the same tournament.

Sabine Lisicki broke the record for the fastest recorded serve when she served at 131 miles per hour in her afternoon match against Ana Ivanovic, 2 miles faster than Williams' previous mark set at the 2007 US Open.

Bank of the West Classic

Perhaps Sabine Lisicki's record serve was spurred on after meeting a couple of San Francisco legends in Willie Mays and Barry Bonds.

"I think it's time it was broken. It's a good thing," Williams said. "Obviously, I need to try to serve harder, but clearly she serves really hard. That's good encouragement. But I'm not out there really trying to serve hard. I used to, but now, when I really want the point, I try a medium serve somewhere above 110. I try more for placement these days.

"It takes a lot of energy to serve. So if you can take 10 miles off and place it, it's smarter."

Occasionally topping 120 mph with her serve, Williams beat Paula Kania 6-3, 6-2 in her first match since Wimbledon to advance to Thursday's second-round match against Victoria Azarenka. Since the Bank of the West tournament was moved to Stanford, Williams has reached the final in seven times of eight trips, winning twice.

"I had no idea I had that record here, actually," Williams said. "This and Wimbledon are probably the best tournaments when it comes to reaching the final. I was reading a stat on and I had no idea, so I had to go and look back at all those years and see. Oh, that's where I played. It definitely triggered the memories. It's nice to have results like that.

"It's a good time after Wimbledon to come back fresher and hungrier and you're ready to play. That's probably part of it. And growing up on hard courts, even though I've had the good results at Wimbledon, I think hard is my best surface just from growing up on this surface."

The tournament was played in Oakland, California, in the fall when Williams played her first professional match in 1994, beating Shaun Stafford in the first round before losing to Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in the second round.

"It's great to still be feeling well enough to be playing on this tour, which is much more competitive than it was 20 years ago," Williams said. "To be looking pretty solid, too, that's great. It's been a long journey. I don't know if at that age I would have envisioned I would still be playing now, but I'm glad I am. Because you get one shot at it, and then you fade to grace when someone else is better. So while I'm here, I'm going to go for it."

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