Tue, Jan 01, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Serena Williams returns to competitive action in Perth

AP, PERTH, Australia

Serena Williams of the US returns to Greece’s Maria Sakkari in their Hopman Cup women’s singles match at the RAC Arena in Perth, Australia, yesterday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Serena Williams yesterday overcame a sluggish start to power past Maria Sakkari in straight sets at the Hopman Cup in her first competitive match since melting down in the US Open final.

The 37-year-old was rusty and down an early break, but did enough to record a comfortable 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 victory in 1 hour, 44 minutes in her women’s singles match.

The result leveled the tie between the US and Greece, but Williams and playing partner Frances Tiafoe lost the later mixed doubles match in three sets to Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Even though both her ankles were strapped and she required medical attention during the change of sets, Williams moved freely and looked sharper as the match wore on.

“It was my first match back. I was making a lot of errors,” Williams said. “It was great to be back out on match day.”

The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion lost an exhibition match against sister Venus in Abu Dhabi last week, but the Hopman Cup is her first competitive event since her controversial defeat to Japan’s Naomi Osaka at Flushing Meadows in September.

It was an error-strewn start for Williams, who struggled to land her first serve and was broken in the third game. She could have been in a bigger hole if not for saving break points in her first and third service games.

A vocal Williams tried to pump herself up in a bid to shake off the stupor and raised her arms skyward after holding serve in the fifth game.

A confident Sakkari held the edge until losing her nerve attempting to close out the set in the 10th game.

Williams then found her range and dominated the tiebreak to wrap up the first set in 63 minutes. She broke twice in the second set and closed it out with an ace.

In the earlier men’s singles match, world No. 15 Tsitsipas overcame a second-set wobble to defeat Tiafoe 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3.

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