ISTANBUL, Turkey - Serena Williams got some good old fashioned revenge at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul 2012 on Tuesday, outdoing Angelique Kerber in straight sets in her first match of the week.
Williams came in having won 26 of her last 27 matches, collecting titles at Wimbledon, Stanford, the Olympics and the US Open - the only blemish belonged to Kerber, who downed Williams in the quarterfinals of Cincinnati.
But with some very aggressive play this meeting was nothing like that 64 64 loss, as Williams blasted 26 winners to 20 unforced errors - and won 17 of 20 at net - en route to a 64 61 victory. Kerber stayed with her until 3-all in the first set, but Williams ran off nine of 11 games from there to completely shut the door.
"Honestly, you don't think about it too much," Williams said of her loss in their last meeting. "Obviously I'm thinking, 'Okay, she's beaten me before, so she's going to be a little confident and feel like she can beat me again. What can I do to improve?' But I really just wanted to do well and win today. When you're playing against anyone that's in the Top 5 you're just trying to play better."
Williams was playing her first match since winning the US Open, having not played at all in the fall season until now. But she said she was ready.
"I felt like I practiced too much, and if I hit another practice ball I'm going to go nuts," she said. "I just really wanted a match. I was glad I played on the first day. I was like, 'If I have another practice day, I don't know if I can handle it.'"
The 15-time Grand Slam champion and former World No.1 was also asked about the vocal support she received from the crowd. "I found it nice - I've never been here, but I never knew I had so many Turkish supporters. It was really an honor to hear the fans go crazy and be really loud when I walked out.
"It made me have this smile on my face, and an even bigger smile inside."
The No.3-ranked Williams has now won 27 of her last 28 matches, and 44 of her last 46 if you include her clay court season (her only loss on clay coming to Virginie Razzano in the first round of the French Open). Perhaps an even greater stat is the American has now won 15 matches in a row against Top 5 players - her last loss to someone in that ranking class came to Vera Zvonareva at Eastbourne in June 2011 (and there's an asterisk there - it was just her second match back after a year-long lay-off, and she led 63 53, too).
Kerber was not only playing her first match as a Top 5 player - she just set a new career-high of No.5 this week - but she was playing her first ever match at the WTA Championships. The German is the only left-hander ever to beat Venus Williams more than once (doing so three times), and she was trying to become the third left-hander to beat Serena Williams more than once (Patty Schnyder has done it four times, Sybille Bammer has done it twice).
Williams had some very nice things to say about the World No.5.
"I could feel she was really excited all week long," she said. "She's really happy to be here and feels honored to be here, and she deserves to be here, because she worked hard and has been one of the most consistent players on the tour. I think 10 semifinals is pretty impressive, and winning two titles, as well.
"I think she will have a lot more chances to play at this event."
Williams was then asked if she remembered her own first time playing here.
"No, I don't. I think it was back in the 1800s."