Serena Williams marked her return to tennis with a back-from-the-brink victory over Bernarda Pera in the opening round of the Top Seed Open in Lexington, Kentucky on Tuesday.
The 38-year-old Williams, who was a point away from being a set and break down, defeated Pera 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in two hours and 16 minutes, to set up a blockbuster second round against sister Venus.
“It’s good just in general because I haven’t played. A lot of players have been playing – little things and little matches and playing against other players – but I’ve only been training so this was really good for me,” Serena said of her win over Pera.
— wta (@WTA) August 11, 2020
Earlier in the day, Venus defeated former World No 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-3 6-2. This was Venus’ first victory of the year, having lost in the opening round at the Australian Open, Mexican Open (Acapulco) and the Monterrey Open.
The Top Seed Open is the first competitive tournament to be played in the USA, which has been hit hardest by the pandemic, since the Covid-19 outbreak forced tennis to shutdown in March.
“It was a really calm atmosphere, it was really chill,” Serena said, on playing in front of empty stands.
“I can’t say I disliked it. I didn’t mind it at all. I’ve been through so many things in my career and this was totally different. I think I won today because I was calm for once in my career. Kind of reminds me of junior days. Something nostalgic about that. I kind of enjoyed it.”
Serena, who will resume her bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title at the US Open in New York later this month, added: “Being in New York will be a little different because there’s this massive stadium.”
The Williams sisters will clash for the 31st time in their career when they face-off in the second round in Lexington.
“’From one Grand Slam (winner), one No. 1 to another,” Venus, who trails his sister 12-18 in head-to-head meetings, said of their upcoming contest.
“’It’s been quite the draw for me but, honestly, it’s perfect because I don’t play forever so I want to play the best players. And I think I got my wish. Here we go.”