Tagged in: advances

Serena Williams advances to second round in Toronto in straight sets

Serena Williams hadn’t won in so long, she said she couldn’t even remember the feeling.

She picked up her first triumph since the 2021 French Open on Monday, beating Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 6-3, 6-4 at the women’s National Bank Open.

“I’m just happy to get a win. It’s been a very long time, I forgot what that felt like,” Williams said.

It’s just the second tournament of the season for the 40-year-old Williams, who returned to competition at Wimbledon just over a month ago. The 23-time Grand Slam champion fell in the first round to Harmony Tan in three sets at the All England Club.

Before then, she last competed at the 2021 Wimbledon tournament, where she retired in the middle of her first match due to a torn hamstring suffered after slipping on the grass surface.

Williams, who will turn 41 at the end of September, will next face either 12th-ranked Belinda Bencic or Tereza Martincova.

Williams has acquired this tournament three times and reached the final in her last appearance at the hardcourt event in 2019, losing to Bianca Andreescu when she was forced to stop because of injury.

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But Williams has played little since and knows she needs time on the court.

“I feel good, I felt like I competed well today. I think that’s what I needed to do, is just compete,” she said. “Mentally, I’m getting there. I’m not where I normally am (or) where I want to be. Any match I play, whether I win or lose, helps me.

“I haven’t played a lot in the last year, (even) two years. I think that helps me physically. I feel much better in practice, it’s just getting that to the court. Literally, I’m the kind of person (where) it takes one or two things and then it clicks.”

Williams started out strong, taking the first two games with relative ease.

Parrizas-Diaz tied it 2-2, but despite Williams’ struggles at certain points, the 31-year-old Spaniard couldn’t find enough of a consistent flow to get ahead. Williams found her rhythm, mixing solid touch with her signature power and putting shot after shot out of Parrizas-Diaz’s reach.

Williams’ effort had the fans on their feet roaring and some even bowing.

Williams won the final three games to take the first set, then surged ahead in the second after the 57th-ranked Parrizas-Diaz took a 4-3 lead. She endured a nine-deuce game to hold serve and even the set, then broke in the next game before serving out the victory.

While Williams says the end of her remarkable career is in sight, she’s enjoying her time and staying in the moment.

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Simona Halep advances in Citi Open ahead of Venus Williams’ return

Simona Halep earned her opening match at the Citi Open on Monday hours before another former No. 1-ranked women’s player returned to singles action for the first time in 2022.

Venus Williams is set to play her first singles match in nearly a year when she faces Canadian Rebecca Marino on the same court where the third-seeded Halep beat Cristina Bucsa of Spain 6-3, 7-5 earlier in the day at the hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open.

“I had a good run in Wimbledon, so it’s always tough to start,” Halep said of changing surfaces after the grass-court season. “But I’m really happy I won the match and I can play another match here.”

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Williams has not played a WTA singles game since losing to Su-Wei Hseih 6-2, 6-3 in Chicago on Aug. 23. She and partner Coco Gauff lost their doubles debut earlier this year at the French Open.

On the men’s side, Kyle Edmund beat qualifier Yosuke Watanuki 6-4, 7-6 (8) to win his first ATP Tour-level singles match since October 2020.

Edmund, who was once the top-ranked Brit and climbed as high as 14th in the world, was out while recovering from three knee surgeries.

During his rehab, Edmund pictured himself back on the court in moments like this.

“There was long periods where I was just out, couldn’t play, didn’t pick a racket up. … It just wasn’t fun at all,” he said. “These sort of matches or these events are something you imagine when you’re out.”

Countryman Andy Murray is set to play his first match of the tournament Monday afternoon versus Mikael Ymer of Sweden.

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