Kharkiv (Ukraine), Apr 21: Serena Williams overpowered Ukrainian teenager Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-1 to give the United States a 2-0 lead in its best-of-five Fed Cup series on Saturday.
The U.S. needs one victory from Sunday's three matches to return to the top tier of the Fed Cup after Christina McHale earlier won a hard-fought match against Lesia Tsurenko 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
Williams is making her first Fed Cup appearance on foreign soil for more than a decade in order to gain eligibility for the U.S. team at the London Olympics.
The 13-time Grand Slam champion could seal a return to the World Group of the Fed Cup for the U.S. on Sunday if she wins her singles match against Tsurenko.
Williams only faltered once against the 17-year-old Svitolina, who managed to peg back the American to 2-2 in the first set after going down an early break.
"It's easier in the Fed Cup as you have a coach who can help and encourage to stay focused," Williams said.
Williams won four straight games and sealed the first set with an ace. There was then a short delay while Williams had her ankle strapped -- as a precaution, she said later.
The 30-year-old Williams continued to pound Svitolina's weak serve in the second set and closed out the match in exactly an hour.