The fourth-ranked and top-seeded Serena Williams beat reigning NCAA champion Nicole Gibbs, 6-2, 6-1, Wednesday in the second round of the Bank of the West Classic at Taube Family Tennis Center.
Stanford junior Nicole Gibbs could only laugh when she double-faulted her first serve to Serena Williams. It put her at ease a bit and Gibbs recovered to play a few points well.
"It didn't surprise me," Gibbs said. "I was like, 'really?' I can laugh at that one."
The fourth-ranked and top-seeded Williams beat Gibbs, 6-2, 6-1, Wednesday in the second round of the Bank of the West Classic at Taube Family Tennis Center.
The result didn't matter so much to Gibbs, who was a winner the moment she took the court against her tennis hero.
"It was a great experience for me to match up against someone of that caliber," Gibbs said. "I got a lot of experience points if not physical points. It was a good bench mark for me to realize I can play at this level."
Gibbs gets another chance, too. The Santa Monica native was awarded a wild card for the Mercury Insurance Open in San Diego next week.
Gibbs and Stanford senior Mallory Burdette also played in the doubles tournament, losing to third-seeded Natalie Grandin and Vladimira Uhlirova, 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 10-6. Burdette is headed to a $10,000 event next week.
"I thought Mal and I did great for our first time playing in a month," Gibbs said. "We're still meshing together. We just a little unlucky at some of the points. We proved we could play against the third seed of a major tournament."
Stanford women's tennis coach Lele Forood was a proud observer of the match.
"I'm sure Nicole learned a lot out there," she said. "She was impressed with the depth and the pace and she obviously knew darn well she would be seeing a monster serve and had to try to get a racket on it."
Gibbs, her left leg tightly bandaged from almost knee to hip, held serve twice in the first set and broke Williams for her lone point in the second set.
"She held her own today," Williams said of Gibbs. "She played well and moved well. She doesn't quit and that's the best quality you can have as an athlete. She's a fighter. It's really good to see such good Americans coming up."
Forood was quick to agree with Williams' assessment of the reigning NCAA singles and doubles (with Burdette) champion.
"That's one of her best attributes," Forood said. "It's what will help her on the next level. She'll have to play a lot matches and she's going to need to want to win them all."
Meanwhile, Forood forecasted a positive day for Burdette, who plays the second-seeded Marion Bartoli on Thursday sometime after 2 p.m.
"Mallory hits a bigger ball than Nicole," she said. "She has to stay down and look for her shots. She can trade balls with anybody"
In other matches, fifth-seeded Yanina Wickmayer topped Heather Watson, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, and sixth-seeded Chanelle Scheepers beat Michelle Larcher de Brito, 6-3, 6-4.
Williams and Scheepers meet in Friday's quarterfinal round. Wickmayer will meet Bartoli or Burdette.