Life has changed a lot for Amelie Mauresmo since her last appearance at the U.S. Open. The 20-year-old Frenchwoman has made it to the final of a Grand Slam and has shot up to the No. 16 ranking.

She became the first player outside the top 10 to defeat two No. 1 players in one year when she beat Lindsay Davenport in January and Martina Hingis in February. She also became the first player since Martina Navratilova to publicly announce her homosexuality, engendering a mixed reaction from the other players on the WTA Tour.

After such a whirlwind of activity, all Mauresmo is looking for now is to string a few wins together and get back some of the confidence she lost after injuring her ankle in a doubles match at the French Open. She took another step in that direction today, rebounding from a difficult first set to defeat Mariaan de Swardt, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3, and advance to the third round. Mauresmo got as far as the third round last year, her first U.S. Open appearance.

"It's a little bit different from last year, of course," she said. "The conditions for me this year are not the best, after the injury and everything, but I don't think I have that much pressure. I'm seeded and I have a pretty good draw."

Mauresmo was unseeded when she reached the final of the Australian Open this year, knocking off Davenport before losing to Hingis in the title match. She revealed her homosexuality during the event, increasing the avalanche of publicity but also increasing her fan base, which has been ardently supporting her here.

"I think people appreciate that I have been honest with them," she said. "They're behind me. I guess there are some people who are not behind me also, but at least I only see the good ones."

A few other players, including Davenport and Hingis, made derogatory comments referring to Mauresmo's sexuality at the Australian Open, but Davenport has since apologized and said her comment that Mauresmo "plays like a guy" was not meant as it was interpreted.

Mauresmo said that in the ensuing year she has not had any problems with other players. She also said she has felt no negative reaction from her sponsors, something Navratilova struggled with in the '80s.

V. Williams a Bit Cold

Venus Williams is fighting off a cold but is not too concerned about her health affecting her performance. Williams also had a cold this spring during the Lipton tournament in Key Biscayne, Fla. She still won the title, defeating her sister, Serena, in the final.

Tonight she defeated Anne-Gaelle Sidot, 6-4, 6-3, to advance to the third round.

"You know how it is when you get a cold -- just kind of odd," Williams said. "I think it will kind of stay at bay until I've stopped playing, and then when I go home, I'll be real, real tired."

A Match Made in Cleveland

No. 5 seed Mary Pierce said being engaged to Cleveland Indians star Roberto Alomar gives her someone to talk to who understands the rigors of being a professional athlete.

"We try to spend time together whenever we can," Pierce said of Alomar, who used to play for the Baltimore Orioles. "We go play tennis sometimes; we have fun. He's helped me and I've been able to talk to him about things. You know in sports, when you come down to it, it's almost all the same no matter what you play. He has a good eye on things, and he's come to some tournaments with me."

Pierce said she checks the baseball box scores every morning and that Alomar scans the tennis results.

"So do his teammates," she said. "They're all watching tennis. It's cool." . . .

Todd Martin threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium tonight. . . . Rockville native Paul Goldstein and fellow American Chris Woodruff lost their opening round doubles match, 6-4, 6-0, to Neville Godwin and Marcos Ondruska.