Rome: Former French Open winner Garbine Muguruza warmed up for this month’s clay-court Grand Slam at Roland Garros by easing into the second round of the Italian Open on Monday with a straight sets win over China’s Zheng Saisai.
Muguruza — a former world number one now ranked 19th — came through 6-3, 6-4 for her third win over 46th-ranked Saisai this season.
The 25-year-old Muguruza, who won the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2017, has twice reached the semi-finals in Rome.
“It was a slow start but I’m happy because last week wasn’t a good week for me,” Muguruza, who exited the Madrid Open in the first round, told the WTA website.
“I love Rome and it is very important for me to get as many matches as I can for the Grand Slam at the French Open.”
She next plays either Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, the 11th seed, or American Danielle Collins, for a place in the third round.
It was not a good day for Chinese players at the Foro Italico with two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka crushing Zhang Shuai 6-2, 6-1, and next meets two-time defending Rome champion Elina Svitolina.
Chinese 15th seed Wang Qiang also fell to Czech Katerina Siniakova 1-6, 7-5, 6-4.
Former world number one Serena Williams returned from injury to book a rematch with her sister Venus, 21 years after they last met in Rome.
Four-time Rome winner Serena, 37, eased through 6-4, 6-2 against Swedish qualifier Rebecca Petersen after nearly two months out with a knee injury. But 38-year-old Venus, whose only Rome title came back in 1999, needed more than three hours to battle past Belgian Elise Mertens 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4).
The sisters last played each other in the quarter-finals in Rome in 1998, with Venus the winner....