By HOWARD FENDRICH
Associated Press Sports
PARIS (AP) -Good as she was while winning four consecutive Grand Slam titles in 2002-03, Serena Williams believes her game is better these days.
"The 'Serena Now' would definitely beat the 'Other Serena,' just in general. I'm older. I think I'm wiser. I think I'm just a more mature player,'' Williams said Thursday. "Back then, it was more nitty-gritty. And now it's more composed and planned-out playing.''
She moved into the third round at the French Open by beating 133rd-ranked Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain 6-2, 6-0. It was a far better performance for Williams than in the first round, when she needed nine match points to get through a three-setter.
"Everything clicked for me today, finally,'' she said. "It was just a better match. I'm not nearly as upset as I was the other day.'' Williams is eyeing her third major championship in a row and the 11th of her career. She has won two Wimbledons, three U.S. Opens and four Australian Opens, but only one French Open - in 2002 as part of her self-styled Serena Slam. She calls herself a fan of playing on clay.
"I grew up on the clay a lot. I'm totally fine on the clay. My results haven't been where I wanted them to be, but from, like, 9 to 14, I played nothing but clay-court tennis,'' Williams said. "I actually love it, and it's really one of my favorite surfaces, because I love to slide.''