Serena Williams secures place in last 16 of Emilia-Romagna Open

Sloane Stephens in action

Serena Williams overcame a shaky start to power into the last 16 of the Emilia-Romagna Open at the expense of 17-year-old qualifying wildcard Lisa Pigato.

World No 572 Pigato produced three superb winners to break the 23-time grand slam winner in the first game of their first-round match in Parma but Williams soon recovered.

The veteran American, who added the tournament to her French Open preparations after her early elimination in Rome last week, hit straight back to win 16 of the next 18 points and lead 4-1.

Top seed Williams then eased to a 6-3, 6-2 victory in 68 minutes.

“Lisa played really well,” said Williams in her on-court interview. “The first game, she played really good and I needed to adjust to get back.

“Her future is super-bright. She handled the moment well, so I look forward to cheering for her in the future.”

Williams will next play Katerina Siniakova following the Czech’s 6-1, 6-3 win over Clara Tauson.

Sloane Stephens in action

Sloane Stephens is also through to the next round (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

Her sister Venus Williams will go no further, however, as she was beaten 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 by Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia in a tough contest that lasted two hours and 39 minutes.

Sloane Stephens edged her all-American clash with qualifier Caty McNally 7-6, 6-4 while seventh-seeded Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo beat Bernarda Pera 6-4, 6-2. Eighth seed Caroline Garcia of France saw off Argentina’s Paula Ormaechea 6-4, 6-4.

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