Serena Williams Returns to Roland Garros with a Win, Nadal, Del Potro, Cilic and Sharapova Advance
(May 29, 2018) Serena Williams has won her first major tournament match since January 2017 as a mother when the unseeded 23-time major title winner battled past No. 70 Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic 7-6 (4), 6-4 to reach the second round of Roland Garros on Tuesday.
Williams, who gave birth to daughter Olympia in September, comes into the tournament ranked in the 450s. Williams came onto the court dressed in a all-black catsuit with a pink waistband.
“It wasn’t — it wasn’t an easy match, because, I mean, the beginning was so many aces and I knew that after her first game of serving, I said, Okay, I have to serve really well today,” Williams said. “I need to really be on my game serving-wise, because, you know, there’s not going to be a tremendous amount of rallies.
“So, yeah, I was struggling to get in a little rhythm because it was so much acing, so many aces going on. But overall, I was definitely happy with my performance and how I played today.
“As for the cat suit, the new version, 2.0 , it’s cool. I call it like my Wakanda-inspired cat suit. It’s really fun. Although we designed it way before the movie, but still, it kind of reminds me of that. It was comfortable. I tried it on a couple of times before. Hadn’t tried it on in a long time, like, over a month. So I was just winging it in the last minute.”
“I feel like I’m on the right track,” Williams said in terms of competing. “You know, I have been putting a lot of work in on the court, off the court, on the court, on the court, off the court, that’s kind of been my life. I have been really enjoying it. Hopefully the results continue to show.”
Asked about what is the biggest difference in being a mother at a major:
So this is an easy answer. The
biggest difference is definitely I’m semi on time today,
two minutes late, because I want to get home and
see Olympia, because I have been here all day. You
know, there was a couple of rain delays. So I haven’t
been able to — usually we hang out all the time. If I’m
not practicing, we’re hanging out.
So that is the biggest difference. I’m, you know, I’m
concerned how that’s going to work out for me,
because normally in Grand Slams, I do spend a lot of
time at the site. She’s so young, I don’t really bring
So, yeah, this is definitely going to be interesting.
How much more difficult do you think it is to
be a mother playing tennis than, say, some of the
fathers who are playing?
Well, first and foremost, you
have to get your core back, which is hard, because it
literally spreads when you have a baby. That’s
difficult. And just coming back from the physical of
having a baby, at my age (she said with a smile) is never, I think,
You know, emotionally I think it’s different, because,
you know, I’m so emotionally attached to my
daughter. Dads are, too, but I actually breast fed for
a really, really, really long time, and so I just had this
real connection with my daughter.
Yeah, so I think there is definitely some differences,
but there is a lot of similarities, as well, too.
Two-time French Open champion Maria Sharapova won six straight games from 0-3 down in the final set to beat Dutch qualifier Richel Hogenkamp 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
Sharapova had led 6-1, 4-3, when her opponent won six straight games.
“I had a really good start,” Sharapova said, “and I feel like I got very impatient in the second set for not many reasons. She was becoming a little bit more consistent, and I think I lost a little bit of pace on my ball, but I finished out six straight games. I think if there is any way to turn that match around, it’s that way.
I think I can be proud of that effort, but I definitely stepped back a little bit, and wasn’t as aggressive as I was through that 6-1, 3-1, but overall won the last point.”
The win was her first in Paris since 2015. She was serving a doping ban in 2016 and was not given a wild card last year.
In a match between two former Roland Garros champions, 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza defeated 2009 winner Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6(0), 6-2.
Rafael Nadal avoided dropping a set at the French Open for the first time since 2015, by saving four set points in the third set tiebreaker in finishing up his rain-delayed match from Monday over lucky loser No. 129th– ranked Simone Bolelli 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (9) on Tuesday.
“It was a good match,” said the ten-time Roland Garros champion. It was a difficult match, because he played so aggressive and very well, I think. I resisted, you know, always difficult to play against players that wants to hit every ball so hard, and even more if it’s the first round. He played well, I think, so well, playing with lot of risk but having success with all of the risk that he take. And, yeah, I played a match that I have to play more aggressive, I know. But it was difficult today to play so aggressive being in the first round and against a player who really came on court and decided to play that strong.
Third seed Marin Cilic is into the second round of Paris. The 2014 US Open winner beat Australian James Duckworth 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (4).
Fifth seed Juan Martin Del Potro moved into the second round with a 1-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over Frenchman Mahut.
Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov’s first major tournament match as a seeded player was a 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 victory over John Millman of Australia.
The 19-year-old who is the seeded 24th talked about the win: “it was really tough conditions today with the rain. The court was getting pretty heavy, but the balls especially, they were getting really fluffy and heavy. It was tough to play against a guy like John on such a slow court. But, you know, at the same time I felt like I played really well. Really used the advantage of the new balls, you know, really tried to dictate the first couple of games when they came out. Yeah, I’m really happy with the win. It’s not an easy match against John. He’s such an experienced player.”
The young Canadian lost in the first round of qualifying last year in Paris.
More to follow…