Three-times winner Serena Williams moved into the Toronto Open second round with a 6-3 6-4 win over Spain’s Nuria Parrizas Diaz on Monday while Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and Simona Halep also advanced.
Williams, in her second singles match since returning to action at Wimbledon in June after a year-long absence from competition, was forced to dig deep during a nearly two-hour match played in hot and humid conditions.
“Mentally I feel I’m getting there. I’m not where I normally am and I’m not where I want to be,” Williams told reporters.
“Physically I feel much better in practice, it’s just like getting that to the court. But literally I’m the kind of person who it just takes one or two things and then it clicks. So I’m just waiting on that to click.”
One of 14 major winners in the main draw of the WTA 1000 event, a tune-up for the U.S. Open, Williams clinched the opener on her fourth set point with a vintage smash that Parrizas Diaz had no chance of returning.
The second set was a much tighter affair and Williams did well to hold serve in a physically demanding 18-minute game during which she fought off four break points to get to 4-4 before sealing her first singles win since the 2021 French Open.
“It’s just one win, you know, it takes a lot. But I was happy, like I said, to have a win,” said Williams. “It’s been a very long time. I forgot what it felt like.” Up next for Williams will be Olympic champion Belinda Bencic, the 12th seed, or Czech Tereza Martincova. Elder sister Venus Williams was however not so lucky after losing to Jil Teichmann 6-3 6-3.Meanwhile the 23-time grand-slam champion has hinted of her possible retirement from the sports that brought her fame and fortune according to Vogue magazine
“I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me,” she wrote.
Williams has committed to playing at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati next week as well as the US Open later this month, and it appears that will be her final tournament.
“Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year,” said the 40-year-old.
“And I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York. But I’m going to try. And the lead-up tournaments will be fun.
“I know there’s a fan fantasy that I might have tied Margaret (Court on 24 slam singles titles) that day in London, then maybe beat her record in New York, and then at the trophy ceremony say, ‘See ya!’
“I get that. It’s a good fantasy. But I’m not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment. I’m terrible at goodbyes, the world’s worst.”