Serena Williams wins opening match at Key Biscayne

STEVEN WINE AP Sports Writer Published:

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) -- Serena Williams looked right at home, and not just because her purple dress matched the color of the court.

Playing in her backyard tournament for the first time since 2009, the five-time champion beat wild card Zhang Shuai 6-2, 6-3 Thursday at the Sony Ericsson Open.

The victory marked Williams' return to tournament tennis after a two-month absence. And it was her first match at Key Biscayne since she lost to Victoria Azarenka in the final three years ago.

Williams lives two hours up Interstate 95 in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

American Ryan Harrison, a wild card entry, rallied past Polito Starace 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-4 and will next face two-time champion Roger Federer. The match will be a gauge of progress for the 19-year-old Harrison, who is ranked 73rd but has yet to beat a top 10 player.

"He's very talented," Federer said, "and I'm sure he's going to be making his move up the rankings very easily this year and in the coming years. He has a big game."

Two-time champion Kim Clijsters defeated No. 14-seeded Julia Goerges 6-2, 7-5. No. 13 Jelena Jankovic lost her opening match to Mona Barthel 6-0, 6-3.

Health issues prevented Williams from playing at Key Biscayne in 2010 and 2011, and a left ankle injury has slowed her this year. Aside from two Fed Cup victories in February, she was playing for the first time since she lost in the fourth round at the Australian Open.

Williams, who received a first-round bye because she's seeded 10th, looked fit but rusty and endured some sloppy moments. At one juncture she froze in a pose behind the baseline, hands on her hips as she fumed after making a flurry of mistakes.

While her returns were especially erratic, she served six aces and lost only seven of 34 points on her first serve.