Serena Williams jumped straight back in where she left off at the Australian Open, returning for the first time since winning the title in 2017 when she was pregnant with her first child.
Williams conceded only five points in the first set and was completely clinical in a 6-0, 6-2 win over Tatjana Maria, another mom who lives close to Williams in Florida and visits for play dates with their daughters.
It was overwhelming for Maria, who got just two of her first serves into play in the first set and didn’t have game points until she held in the fourth game of the second set. She was in tears as the pair hugged at the net following the match, and Williams joined the crowd in giving the German player a clap as she left the arena.
“Yeah, I think the last time I was here, I was pregnant and playing at the same time - which is insane,” Williams said. “It’s kind of weird walking back on, by myself this time.”
Williams considers the 2017 victory here among the best of her 23 Grand Slam singles titles, giving everything that was going on. Since returning to the tour following the birth of Alexis Olympia, Williams hasn’t added to her list of majors, having lost the finals at Wimbledon and the US Open.
“Literally the best win of my career,” she recalled Tuesday in a post-match TV interview. “Just exciting to be back.”
At Melbourne Park, she’s now on an eight-match winning streak. She’s only lost one of her last 22 matches at the season-opening major, which she has won seven times.
The 37-year-old Williams said she loves to test herself early in the year after practicing “hard for that first hit.”
“I like to jump into the deep end and swim,” she said.
The 16th-seeded Williams will face either Eugenie Bouchard or wild-card entry Peng Shuai in the second round.