After 404 days of no progress, previous world number 1 Serena Williams came back to the WTA circuit Thursday at Indian Wells and rapidly discovered its orientation to achieve the second.
At 36, after 14 months of absence and serious medical complications following the birth of her daughter Alexis Olympia, the American still has ambition, even if she no longer has a WTA ranking.
The queen of women’s tennis, winner of 23 Grand Slam titles, has mastered, without having been put in danger on his service, Kazakhs Zarina Diyas, 53rd in the world, in two sets 7-5, 6-3.
Everything was not perfect far from it, with a perfectible service (58% of first balls, four double faults) and a great nervousness despite the enthusiastic support of the public.
But the youngest of Williams’ s sisters managed the first leg of her comeback, 14 months after her last game, the final of the 2017 Australian Open.
“It’s amazing, I’m back a year and a child after, and now I’m going to find my daughter at home,” said the American who had originally planned to return for the 2018 Australian Open last January, before giving up short training.
“This match was not easy, I faced (Diyas) several times and each time, it was complicated. I’m still a bit rusty, but it’s not the most important, what matters is to give the best of myself to every game for my return, “she said.
“No stress, no pressure, no waiting”
Serena Williams, twice crowned at Indian Wells, a tournament she boycotted from 2002 to 2014 for being racially victimized by her family from some of the spectators at the 2001 edition, wants to savor this return.
“I’m just trying to take things as they come, without stress or pressure or expectation, something I’ve rarely done in my career,” she explained.
“I know I will not play at my best level in the first games, it will take time,” warned the player to the 72 titles of the WTA.
Her next opponent could pose more problems: it is the Dutch Kiki Bertens, 29th world, she has always beaten in two confrontations.
Another former World Number One, also a native of Indian Wells who became a mother recently also made her comeback: Belarusian Victoria Azarenka led Britain’s Heather Watson in 6-4, 6-2 sets.
Azarenka, the world’s 204th and recipient of an invitation, however, had to fight more than fifteen minutes in the seventh game of the second set to finally bend Watson, 70th world.
The Belarusian, engaged in a court battle with her former companion for the custody of their son and forced to stay in the United States, had not appeared in competition since the last Wimbledon.