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AFP
August 13, 2020

Williams made to work for win on WTA return

Sports

AFP
August 13, 2020

LOS ANGELES: A rusty Serena Williams made a winning return from her six-month coronavirus hiatus on Tuesday, defeating lowly ranked Bernarda Pera in three sets to advance to the second round of the WTA Top Seed Open tournament in Kentucky.

Williams, who before Tuesday had not played a competitive game since a Fed Cup appearance in February, was forced to come from behind to defeat world number 60 Pera 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in two hours and 15 minutes at the Top Seed Tennis Club in Lexington.

“I haven’t played in so long,” Williams said afterwards. “It was good for me play three sets and win a match in three sets.”

The 38-year-old former world number one looked to be flirting with an early exit in the second set, but recovered from 0-40 down at 4-4 before holding and eventually winning the set to level.

“I wasn’t getting a good rhythm, and I just said ‘Serena, play like you’ve been practicing’,” Williams said.

“I knew I could play a little bit better if I just hung in there.”

Williams will now play either sister Venus or Victoria Azarenka, who face each other later Tuesday, in the second round.

Pera had seized an early advantage in the first set, breaking Williams to take a 3-2 lead before holding for the remainder of the set to win 6-4.