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Tennis: Venus, Sharapova win

Associated Press
STANFORD, Calif. ó Back from her post-Wimbledon down time, Venus Williams didn’t need long to get warmed up at the Bank of the West Classic.
It wasn’t always pretty.
While she looked far from sharp at times as she missed shots long and sent others into the net, the second-seeded Williams pulled out enough of her top shots to beat Stephanie Dubois of Canada 6-2, 6-3 in a first-round match at Stanford on Tuesday night.
Williams’ sister, Serena, was set to take the court next at Stanford in the $700,000 event. They are also playing doubles together, which will be more of a focus for the duo in the coming months.
“We kind of have this secret goal I can’t talk about,” Venus Williams said.
SHARAPOVA
STANFORD, Calif. ó Maria Sharapova shook off some inconsistent play to beat Ai Sugiyama, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-1, in the first round of the $700,000 WTA Premier Bank of the West Classic.
The 62nd-ranked Sharapova, working her way back from right shoulder surgery, avoided losing her first match in a tournament since Oct. 8, 2007, in Moscow to Victoria Azarenka. She has not lost a first round match since Aug. 11, 2003 to Elena Likhovtseva in Toronto.
Sharapova recovered from a 4-0 deficit in the first set, but then allowed a 5-2 lead in the second set to get away before dominating the third set.
Fourth-ranked and third-seeded Elena Dementieva beat Anne Keothavong, 6-1, 6-4.

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