INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) - Serena Williams has won her first match in her comeback at the BNP Paribas Open after a 14-month layoff for the birth of her first child.
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Following Serena on court was her good friend Azarenka who because of issues between her and her ex-boyfriend over baby Leo, it was her first match since Wimbledon.
The 23-time Grand Slam victor will face Kazakhstan'sZarina Diyas in the first night match (10 p.m. ET). "I have played for over 20 years and I have always been extremely honest", she added, a smile returning to her face. Indian Hills is Williams' first step toward another Grand Slam title.
Williams has not played an official singles match since winning the 2017 Australian Open last January. "And watching Serena I thought she played really well and seeing her fight out there that's all I wanted to do". I am never going to be able to look my kid in the eye and say: "Mum cheated", or 'Mum did something that is totally irresponsible'.
Then Williams was asked why she had required the backdated TUE, which was revealed as part of a cache of confidential data by the Fancy Bears hacker group in 2016.
Speaking to the crowd that gave her an incredible reception, Williams said she felt "it was meant to be" that she would make her comeback on International Women's Day. At 23 Grand Slam wins, she's one away from tying Margaret Court for the most all-time, and she isn't using her hiatus as an excuse.
She is unable to leave California due to an ongoing custody battle over her son, but showed few ill effects in a 6-4, 6-2 thrashing of Great Britain's Heather Watson. "There were some moments I lost my concentration [because of] not playing so long, but it's a pretty good start". At some point I just need to start, and just jump and fly. "It [retirement] wasn't even a question for me". "It's so real", she stated.
Williams, a victor of 23 Grand Slam titles, is in the same quarter of the draw as older sister Venus.
"She might go out a little less", Venus said before breaking into a grin. "I think sometimes motherhood changes people in a way that they become less young and more serious, but that hasn't affected her".
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