By Godwin Aikigbe
Serena Williams said she surprised herself with some of the errors in her 7-5, 6-3 first-round victory over Zarina Diyas at Indian Wells on Thursday night.
It was the former world number one’s first competitive game in 14 months following the conception and delivery of her first child Alexis Olympia Jr.
“I was thinking from zero to Serena, I’m probably just to the ‘S,’” Williams was quoted as saying in an interview on the tournament’s official website.
“I have a little ways to go but I’ll get there. I’m just going to go for it. I surprised myself with some of the errors but right now, for this particular tournament, I’m really just trying to take it easy and not put so much pressure or stress or expectation on myself. I feel like it’s one of the few times I’ve been able to do that,” she added.
Dressed in her comeback outfit of black leggings under a black dress and looking more fit than she probably had any right to be, Williams was obviously not in the peak form that produced more Grand Slam titles (23) than any man or woman in the Open Era.
There were bouts of sloppiness, like when she lost seven points in a row early in the second set. But then, as she’s so often done throughout her career, Serena fought back with four straight points of her own, breaking back to take a 3-2 lead.
This was not the night she would lose to the 53rd-ranked player in the world. And with a smile as wide as any Grand Slam grin, Williams moves on to play 29th-ranked Kiki Bertens in the second round with her sister Venus awaiting a possible meeting in the third.
And the first time she can leave a match and go home to her daughter.
“My favorite thing is her toothless smile, it’s absolutely my favorite thing. Just holding her and the way my heart skips a beat. I never thought about that. I’ve always thought it would never be like that.”