-- With nearly identical scores and nearly identical efficiency, the Williams sisters made their return to Grand Slam tennis Tuesday and easily handled their opponents, securing spots in the second round of the French Open despite nagging injuries that have sidelined them in recent months.
It took Serena, the tournament's No. 2 seed, 65 minutes to dispatch Iveta Benesova, 6-2, 6-2, in her first-round match on center court. It was her first Grand Slam tournament since Wimbledon last summer and her first appearance at Roland Garros since she was booed off the court in defeat after a semifinal loss to eventual champion Justine Henin-Hardenne.
Serena insisted that no harsh memories lingered, and she received a warm welcome from French fans upon taking the court for her first match of the tournament. She also debuted a dazzling fuschia and red outfit, topped with a bolero-style jacket and complemented by fuschia hoop earrings, pink sneakers and a fluffy red florette binding her ponytail.
"I'm always trying to raise the bar on my outfits -- especially here because you're in Paris," Serena said. "It's just a one-of-a-kind city, and you need to have one-of-a-kind outfits."
Serena said her knee, on which she had surgery, felt good, and her game, which featured 29 winners to Benesova's eight, looked imposing.
It took her big sister, Venus, five minutes longer to beat Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn, 6-2, 6-4. Venus moved hesitantly at first, mindful of the recently twisted ankle that nearly sidelined her for the tournament, but her confidence grew as the match wore on. "I think my feet were slow," Venus said. "I was slow in general, making some errors."
Tuesday's matches featured the conclusion of the longest singles match in modern history, with French qualifier Fabrice Santoro beating countryman Arnaud Clement, the tournament's No. 32 seed, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (7-4), 3-6, 16-14.
The match, which started Monday on Suzanne-Lenglen court, lasted 6 hours 33 minutes.
Clement had two match points -- one Monday at 5-4 in the fifth set, and a second Tuesday at 14-13. Santoro finally closed the match on his first match point.
"Fabrice is a guy that just keeps sending the ball back," said a remarkably composed Clement. "I could have won, but he won and I think he deserves it." . . .
Jennifer Capriati was her own worst enemy against a determined Yulia Beygelzimer. Capriati, the No. 7 seed, appeared to have the match well in hand, having won the first set 6-2 and leading handily in the second when she started unraveling. But Capriati won, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.