Serena Williams on seeing no fans in the stands: I didn't mind it
Former No. 1 Serena Williams insists atmosphere without fans reminded her of junior days as she beats USA's Bernarda Pera 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 to make winning return
Serena Williams shrugged off the absence of fans to make a winning return from her six-month COVID-19 layoff on Tuesday, defeating lowly ranked Bernarda Pera in three sets at the WTA Top Seed Open tournament in Kentucky. Serena, who before Tuesday had not played a competitive game since a Fed Cup appearance in February, came from behind to defeat American World No. 60 Pera 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in two hours and 15 minutes in Lexington. The former World No. 1's first round victory played out to an empty arena. This week's tournament—the first WTA event in the US since the COVID-19 pandemic—is taking place without spectators.
Serena, 38, later revealed that the sedate surroundings had suited her game. "It was a really calm atmosphere, it was really chill," Serena said. "I can't say I disliked it. I didn't mind it at all. I've been through so many things in my career and this was totally different. I think I won today because I was calm for once in my career. Kind of reminds me of junior days. Something nostalgic about that. I kind of enjoyed it."
Alexis Ohanian watches wife Serena Williams in action while daughter Olympia seems to busy with a toy in Kentucky on Tuesday. Pic/AFP
The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion looked to be flirting with an early exit in the second set, but recovered from 0-40 down at 4-4 before holding and eventually winning the set. "I just knew I could do better," Serena said.
"It was an interesting game. I just had to get used to her game a little bit. She played really well." Serena will now play sister Venus in the second round.
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