Top seed Caroline Wozniacki [ Images ] had to recover from 1-5 and save a set point to defeat Slovak Dominika Cibulkova [ Images ] 6-2, 7-6 while second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova [ Images ] received a walkover when Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues withdrew with a back injury.
Israel's Shahar Peer lined up a meeting with Denmark's Wozniacki with a decisive 6-2, 6-2 win over 2009 runner-up Virginie Razzano of France [ Images ].
Williams needed to be patient against an opponent who struck several spectacular winners but failed to find consistency in the face of some strong serving and baseline play from the third-seeded American.
Williams broke for 4-2 after Lisicki struck two double faults and then netted a forehand. Another break at 5-2 sealed the set, but Williams faced more of a challenge in the second as Lisicki held a break point at 0-0 and three more at 2-2.
Williams once again broke to lead 4-2 with a forehand winner and although Lisicki hit a winning return in the next game to recover the break she then netted a backhand on break point to give Williams a 5-3 lead.
Williams told reporters: "She was really going for it and playing aggressively, but I definitely was able to get a feel after the first set for what she was doing."
Russian Vera Zvonareva [ Images ], playing her sixth match in six days after winning the Pattaya title in Thailand on Sunday, thrashed Belgian qualifier Kirsten Flipkens 6-0, 6-0.
In contrast, sixth-seeded Serb Jelena Jankovic [ Images ] struggled before overcoming Aravane Rezai [ Images ] of France 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 and Chinese eighth seed Li Na [ Images ] was stretched before winning six of the last seven games to overcome Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain 7-6, 2-6, 6-4.