Serena Williams made her post-childbirth comeback a winning one with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Zarina Diyas in the first round at the BNP Paribas Open in California on Thursday.
In her first singles match in nearly 14 months, since winning the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant, Williams looked understandably rusty in front of a large centre court crowd.
Mixing 27 unforced errors with 34 winners, it was far from easy for the unseeded Williams on the slow hardcourt in Indian Wells.
Only two points from dropping the opening set, she showed the sort of poise that has earned her 23 grand slam singles titles.
After taking a deep breath, Williams unleashed a second serve that kicked up viciously, forcing the 172 cm Kazakh Diyas to reach high for her return, unable to get it back into play.
Holding serve to level at 5-5, Williams broke in the next game, letting out a scream and clenching her left fist as Diyas netted.
The 23-time grand slam winner made 27 unforced errors but hit 34 winners in the match
The second set was a similarly fairly even contest, with Williams again coming through on the most of the big points.
Williams, 36, gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia on September 1, but says post-childbirth health complications that included blood clots in her lungs were almost fatal.
She is now healthy again, but skipped this year’s Australian Open because she did not consider herself ready for the tournament.