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Team WTAworld, Administrator, aka Nibbler
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PARIS (TICKER) -- Top seed Venus Williams returned to action and advanced to the quarterfinals in her debut at the $585,000 Open Gaz de France tennis event on Wednesday.

Williams took last week off after losing to Monica Seles in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. After receiving a bye, she cruised to a 6-1, 6-3 victory over fellow American Meilen Tu, a lucky loser who fell to 0-4 lifetime against the reigning Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion.

The 21-year-old Williams started the season by winning the Australian Women's Hardcourt event in Gold Coast. It was her fourth straight title dating to last year.

Tu reached the second round due to the misfortunate of others. She gained entry into the main draw when Sandrine Testud withdrew with a neck injury on Monday, then advanced when Henrieta Nagyova retired in the second set of their first-round encounter with a strained right wrist.

The fifth-seeded Seles of the United States also moved into the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-3 triumph over Barbara Schett of Austria. Seles, who improved to 6-0 lifetime vs. Schett, is coming off a runner-up showing at the Pan Pacific Open last week.

Seles lost the final Sunday to Martina Hingis after falling to her the week before in the semifinals of the Australian Open.

Third seed and defending champion Amelie Mauresmo of France defeated Anna Kournikova of Russia at this event for the second straight year.

Mauresmo, who earned a bye into the second round, defeated Kournikova, 6-3, 7-5 in another second round match Wednesday. A finalist here in 1999, the 22-year-old Frenchwoman started the year with a quarterfinal effort at Sydney and advanced to the quarterfianls at the Australian Open, where she lost to eventual-winner Jennifer Capriati.

The 20-year-old Kournikova, who reached the semifinals here two years ago, lost in the early rounds at Sydney and the Australian Open but reached the semifinals at the ASB Bank Classic and last week's Pan Pacific Open.

In first-round action, eighth seed Silvia Farina Elia of Italy dispatched Spain's Angeles Montolio, 6-2, 6-2, while her countrywoman qualifier Adriana Serra-Zanetti rallied past another Spaniard, Magui Serna, 2-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Also, Nathalie Dechy of France got past Daja Bedanova, of the Czech Republic, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.

The champion takes home $93,000.
 
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