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SportsTennis

After Open incident, Serena is still Serena

MELBOURNE, Australia - A record fine and threat of suspension aren't going to stop Serena Williams from being anything other than, well, Serena Williams.

"That hasn't crossed my mind at all . . . If I yell too much, it would be a problem," she said. "I feel like I can always be myself . . . I'll say, 'C'mon.' I'll get frustrated. I'll still be human. I'll still make mistakes. I'll still learn from them."

Williams returned to Grand Slam play Tuesday for the first time since her tirade against the line judge who called her for a foot fault during her U.S. Open semifinal loss to Kim Clijsters in September.

And while the 11-time major winner seemed less effusive than usual on court, Williams didn't pull any punches after her 6-2, 6-1 win over 18-year-old Urszula Radwanska about what she thought of the punishment.

"I don't know whoever got fined like that. People said worse, done worse," she said. "I think it was a bit much."

Williams was fined $82,500 and warned she could be suspended from the U.S. Open for another "major offense" at any major event in the next two years. Williams said she doubts whether one of the top men would have drawn such a fine.

"In tennis, I think we've been able to do really well with having fought so hard to get equal prize money," said Williams, who last year became the first woman to surpass $6 million in prize money in a season. I think that's really good. But I think we still sort of, say, live in a man's world. Some incidents can bring you back to life and back into reality."

Williams says that "what I did wasn't right, but I turned that around. She set up a charity auction with the aim of raising $92,000 for "ladies, women . . . schools in Africa . . . Haiti."

Venus Williams, seeded sixth, opened with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Lucie Safarova. Also advancing were No. 8 Jelena Jankovic, No. 11 Marion Bartoli, No. 13 Sam Stosur and No. 19 Nadia Petrova. Melanie Oudin, the 18-year-old American who made a surprising run to last year's U.S. Open quarterfinals, lost, 2-6, 7-5, 7-5, to Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia.

Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic needed 4 hours, 19 minutes to beat Regina Kulikova of Russia, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (10), 6-3, in what the WTA said was the longest women's singles match at a major.

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