Serena ready for long-awaited return at Indian Wells

AFP
SERENA Williams said that she "can't wait for the future" as she warmed up for her return to the WTA Tour at the Tie Break Tens exhibition at Madison Square Garden in New York.
AFP

SERENA Williams said on Monday that she “can’t wait for the future” as she warmed up for her return to the WTA Tour at the Tie Break Tens exhibition at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion is competing at the elite Indian Wells hardcourt tournament this week, her first tour action since her 2017 Australian Open triumph.

Williams was pregnant when she lifted the trophy in Melbourne last year, and missed the rest of 2017 awaiting the birth of her daughter in September.

Monday’s event, which featured eight players facing off in 10-point “super tie breaks” as they vied for a US$250,000 winner’s prize, was a chance to sharpen her skills.

Williams bowed out in the second round, gaining a 9-7 lead over China’s Zhang Shuai but eventually falling 11-13.

“It was good,” she said of the experience. “I wish I would have made a few more shots.”

Williams opened the laid-back event with a 10-5 victory over Marion Bartoli, the 2013 Wimbledon champion who announced in December she was planning to return to the court more than four years after retiring in the wake of her only Grand Slam triumph.

“It feels different, it feels good,” said Williams, who returned to competition with a Fed Cup doubles loss alongside her sister Venus last month.

The birth of Williams’s daughter, Alexis Olympia, was followed by complications that scuppered the player’s plans to defend her title in Melbourne.

But Williams says she’s aiming to be back at her best.

“I think everyone should have high expectations,” said Williams, who will be unseeded at Indian Wells and open her campaign against 53rd-ranked Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan. “That’s the message that I’m sending.”

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