Maria Sharapova finally lost her first games of the 2013 Australian Open, but she still looked comfortable beating one of the greats of women's tennis, beating Venus Williams 6-1, 6-3 in straight sets early Friday morning.
Williams had looked strong in her first two matches, winning both in lopsided affairs, but she was no match for the No. 2 seed. Sharapova nearly won 6-1, 6-1, but Williams got her first and only break of the match with Sharapova serving for the win.
Williams, now 32, has fought her way into the top 25 of the WTA rankings after having fallen lower than 100 dealing with various bouts of illness and injury, but it was clear Thursday she isn't ready to compete for Grand Slams just yet.
She won one tournament last year in Luxembourg -- the 44th of her career, but her first since 2010 -- but was clearly no match for Sharapova. She remains alive in the women's doubles bracket with her sister, having last won the Australian Open in that category in 2010. Serena Williams, the No. 3 seed, plays her third-round match Friday.
Sharapova next faces unseeded Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, who was in action as well Thursday morning. She needed three sets to advance over Valeria Savinykh, but already notched a win over a seeded opponent in No. 23 Klara Zakopalova.