Serena Williams shrugged off the absence of fans to fetch a a success return from her six-month coronavirus layoff on Tuesday, defeating lowly ranked Bernarda Pera in three sets on the WTA Top Seed Open tournament in Kentucky.
Williams, who before Tuesday had now no longer conducted a competitive sport since a Fed Cup appearance in February, came from in the abet of to defeat American world quantity 60 Pera 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in two hours and 15 minutes on the Top Seed Tennis Membership in Lexington.
The stale world #1’s first round victory conducted out to an empty arena. This week’s tournament – the major WTA tournament in the US since the Covid-19 pandemic — is taking just with out spectators.
Williams, 38, later revealed that the sedate environment had suited her sport.
“It modified into as soon as a extremely restful atmosphere, it modified into as soon as primarily kick back,” Williams mentioned.
“I will not advise I disliked it. I did no longer tips it at all. I have been by so many issues in my profession and this modified into as soon as entirely different. I think I obtained on the present time because I modified into as soon as restful for as soon as in my profession.
“Roughly rings a bell in my memory of junior days. Something nostalgic about that. I roughly enjoyed it.”
The 23-time Monumental Slam singles champion looked as if it would be flirting with an early exit in the second space, nonetheless recovered from 0-40 down at 4-4 before retaining and at final a success the space.
“I right knew I would additionally live better,” Williams mentioned. “It modified into as soon as an enticing sport. I right needed to fetch feeble to her sport a puny bit bit. She conducted primarily effectively.”
Williams will now play either sister Venus or Victoria Azarenka, who face every different later Tuesday, in the second round.
Pera had seized an early profit in the major space, breaking Williams to decide on out a 3-2 lead before retaining for the leisure of the space to take 6-4.
Williams modified into as soon as quickly in effort on her carrier sport in the second space, falling 0-40 in the opening sport before struggling with abet to withhold.
Williams moved into a 3-1 lead with a break of Pera’s wait on in the fourth sport, nonetheless her Croatia-born opponent hit abet straight with a break of her possess before retaining to level at 3-3.
With the next two video games going to wait on, Williams looked as if it would be in effort after falling 0-40 down in the ninth sport. But she dug deep to withhold for a 5-4 lead after which broke for the space when Pera despatched a forehand return broad.
The momentum spilled into the deciding space, and one more misdirected forehand from Pera handed Williams a break to cross into a 3-1 lead.
One other break took her into a 5-1 lead and he or she closed out the take by retaining to esteem, wrapping up victory with a disagreeable-court forehand that left Pera stranded.
This week’s WTA tournament is the major to be staged in the US since the Covid-19 pandemic shut down the tennis season earlier this twelve months.
Outcomes from WTA tournament in Lexington, Kentucky, on Tuesday (x denotes seed):
Serena Williams (USA x1) bt Bernarda Pera (USA) 4-6, 6-4, 6-1
Venus Williams (USA) bt Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 6-3, 6-2
Shelby Rogers (USA) bt Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
Leylah Fernandez (CAN) bt Sloane Stephens (USA x7) 6-3, 6-3
Catherine Bellis (USA) bt Francesca Di Lorenzo (USA) 6-1, 6-2
Jil Teichmann (SUI) bt Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) 6-2, 7-5
Yulia Putintseva (KAZ x5) bt Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-0, 6-4
Anna Blinkova (RUS) bt Kristie Ahn (USA) 2-6, 6-4, 3-1 abandon
Olga Govortsova (BLR) bt Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) 7-6 (7/4), 6-1
Coco Gauff (USA) bt Caroline Dolehide (USA) 7-5, 7-5