Serena Williams staged a comeback for her first win in the COVID-19 tennis world, with the 23-time Grand Slam winner defeating Bernarda Pera 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, on Tuesday at the WTA tournament in Kentucky.
The first-time Lexington venue proved fortuitous for Williams, who earned her first win since beating Jelena Ostapenko in Fed Cup in February. Her last Tour appearance was the Australian Open nearly seven months ago.
Williams advanced in two and a quarter hours against her compatriot without any fans watching due to virus restrictions.
Pera came to the court with a Melbourne win over Johanna Konta her first defeat of a Top 10 opponent.
“It was a really calm atmosphere, really chill,” Williams said.
“I can’t say I disliked it. It was different; I’ve been through so many things in my career.
“I think I won today because I was calm for once, so that was really helpful.”
The underdog secured the opening set but was unable to consolidate as decades of Williams experience came into play for the 38-year-old.
Williams levelled the sets and then consolidated an early break in the third for a 4-1 lead as she rolled to the comeback success.
“I haven’t played, like a lot of players have managed to play little things against other players,” Williams said.
“I’ve only been training, so I was missing shots, but getting back into the swing of things at the same time.”