US player Serena Williams returns against Netherlands’ Arantxa Rus during their women’s singles first round match on the first day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 2, 2018. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Serena Williams made a successful return to Wimbledon as she beat Holland’s Arantxa Rus in straight sets on Monday.
The 25th seed is playing on the grass at SW19 for the first time since returning to the game after maternity leave, and she won 7-5, 6-3 to safely progress to the second round.
Wimbledon welcomed Williams back to SW19 after an absence of 724 days:
It’s been a long time since we last saw @serenawilliams play at #Wimbledon – 724 days, to be precise. And it’s a delight to have her back 🤗 https://t.co/5kdxDXt4rD
The American began with a double fault but shrugged off any early nerves by going on to hold serve and then converting her first break point to move into a 2-0 lead.
However, Rus hit back by breaking and levelling at 2-2. Freelance writer Ben Rothenberg noted the conditions out on Court 1:
Serena celebrates in relief as Arantxa Rus’ forehand goes long on set point, giving it to Serena 7-5. Tough conditions out on windy Court 1, and Rus hasn’t seemed daunted by the occasion. #Wimbledon
The set stayed on serve until the closing stages with an animated Williams clearly frustrated with her performance and vocal in expressing her displeasure.
The former champion managed to earn two set points on the Rus serve at 6-5, and although the Dutch player saved the first, an overhit forehand handed Williams the break and the first set.
Freelance writer Tumaini Carayol offered his view of the first set:
Serena takes a very animated, wind-ravaged first set 7-5 against Rus.
The second set did not start smoothly for Williams as Rus secured an early break at 2-1 from 15-40 down. Yet the American kept going and managed to wear Rus down with her powerful groundstrokes as she broke back at 3-3.
The American seemed to smell victory as she started to dominate with some precise hitting which Rus had no answer to.
Another break followed, which allowed Williams to serve for the match, but Rus did not make it easy for her to close it out. The 36-year-old finally converted her sixth match point to book her place in the second round.
The former world No. 1 offered her view after the match, per Rothenberg:
“I didn’t play my best, but I’ll get there.” -Serena Williams. #Wimbledon
Williams is not at her best yet, but she will gain confidence from coming through a tough opener. If she can find some momentum in the early rounds, she will prove a dangerous opponent.