Wearing her self-described "Wonder Woman" outfit, Serena Williams beat Spain's Maria Sanchez Lorenzo, 7-5, 6-3, to reach the third round of the Italian Open yesterday in Rome.

"It was a struggle today: I hit a lot of fly balls, I couldn't hit the ball in," Williams said. "But, hey, at least I got through it."

Williams had not played since pulling out of a tournament in Charleston, S.C., last month, when her left knee flared up. She had surgery on that knee in August and returned in March, winning her first tournament back.

In yesterday's only other second-round match, 17-year-old Maria Sharapova knocked off sixth-seeded Elena Dementieva, 6-1, 6-4. Also, 2000 French Open champion Mary Pierce beat Argentine qualifier Gisela Dulko, 6-1, 6-4; Karolina Sprem eliminated Daniela Hantuchova, 6-2, 6-2; No. 13 Conchita Martinez defeated Yuliana Fedak, 6-1, 6-1.

* GERMAN OPEN: Top-ranked Roger Federer overcame cold conditions to beat Gaston Gaudio, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4, at the Hamburg Masters, while five seeded players were eliminated in the first round. French Open runner-up Martin Verkerk was among the five seeded players who lost. Verkerk, seeded 12th, was beaten, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4), by another big server, Ivan Ljubicic.

Also bowing out early were No. 4 Rainer Schuettler, No. 6 David Nalbandian, No. 9 Nicolas Massu and No. 14 Sjeng Schalken, who quit because of a left hamstring injury while trailing Oscar Hernandez, 5-1.

* DAVIS CUP: Atlanta, Charleston, S.C., and Fort Worth are the leading candidates to host the U.S. Davis Cup team's semifinal against Belarus.