After winning the first match she has played since her US Open final defeat in September last year, Serena Williams of the US admitted she is dreading another season of grueling workouts, but that she still cannot live without tennis.
The 30-year-old Williams had her service broken in the opening game yesterday, before beating Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa 6-2, 6-3 at the Brisbane International.
She needed just 68 minutes to advance, firing seven aces and taking advantage of eight double faults by Scheepers.
She was asked after the match whether her four-month layoff indicated she may have fallen out of love with tennis.
“It’s not that I’ve fallen out of love ... I’ve never really liked sports, I never understood how I became an athlete,” Williams said.
She added, laughing, that she has never liked working out and “I don’t want anything that has to do with working physically.”
“If it involves sitting down or shopping, I am excellent at that. I don’t love tennis today ... but I can’t live without it, so I am still here,” she said.
Williams has said previously that she plans to cut down on her schedule this year.
“I just want to be able to do other things I am doing and expand on that,” she said.
“I think that will help keep my motivation up. I have always been preparing myself for life after tennis,” Williams added.
Not that the 13-time Grand Slam winner is planning on retiring any time soon.
She is scheduled to play young Serbian Bojana Jovanovski in the second round in her only warmup tournament before the Australian Open, a major she has won five times.
In other matches yesterday, top-seeded Samantha Stosur of Australia, who beat Williams for the US Open title, advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus and sixth-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia defeated Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-4, 6-2.
Former world No. 1 Serbian Ana Ivanovic beat Tamira Paszek of Austria 6-3, 6-3 and qualifier Vania King of the US defeated Melinda Czink of Hungary 6-3, 6-4.
Ivanovic is scheduled to play Australian Open defending champion Kim Clijsters in the second round, one of the toughest rivals either player has faced so early in a tournament.
The last time the two players met, former French Open champion Ivanovic blew five match points in Miami in March last year. Ivanovic had three break points when leading 5-1 in the deciding set, before Clijsters came back to win 7-6 (7/4), 3-6, 7-6 (7/5) and improve her career record against Ivanovic to 4-0.
“Last time, it was a hard one for me,” Ivanovic said.
“It would be nice to convert a match point. I will go out there and test myself, push and see how far away I am from the top players,” she said.
In the men’s singles, second seed Gilles Simon of France cruised into the second round with a comfortable straight sets win over Ryan Sweeting of the US.
Despite losing his first service game, the world No. 12 was never in any trouble as he moved to a 6-3, 6-4 victory over the big-serving Sweeting.
Simon has flown under the radar, with most of the attention focused on Britain’s top seed Andy Murray, but after a superb season last year, during which he won two ATP tournaments and took his ranking from 41 to 12, Simon showed he cannot be discounted this week.
“For the first match of the season, I think I played some good tennis,” Simon said.