Serena Williams started her quest for her record-approaching 24th Grand Slam with a difficult success over individual American Kristie Ahn in the first round of the French Open.
The 39-year-old followed twice by a break in the initial set, in the long run winning in a tie break before unequivocally clearing aside 28-year-old Ahn.
It took Williams one hour and 41 minutes to in the end outperform Ahn 7-6 (7-3), 6-0 and advance to the second round at Roland Garros.
“The biggest difference was just confidence,” the No.6 seed said afterwards. “I just need to play with more confidence, like I’m Serena.
“So that was it. I just started playing like that, and I love the clay and I started playing like it, opening the court and moving and sliding.”
Williams is expecting to tie Margaret Court’s Grand Slam win absolute of 24. She is only one away with 23.
She verged on rising to the record at the US Open a month ago, inevitably losing in the elimination rounds to Victoria Azarenka.
Williams has won the French Open multiple times, the last triumph coming in 2015. She lost in the last a year later to Spaniard Garbiñe Muguruza.
In the second gathering between the pair in about half a month – Williams beat Ahn in the first round of the US Open – it was the world No.101 who began the quickest.
Having not played on dirt since losing to Sofia Kenin in the third round at Roland Garros in May 2019, Williams looked corroded which permitted Ahn to underwrite and race into a 4-2 lead in the initial set.
Williams combat back however, tying the score at 4-4 and subsequent to setting off to a tie-break, securing the initial set with her seventh expert.
Furthermore, subsequent to getting ready, the previous world No.1 immediately hustled to triumph, breaking Ahn’s serve multiple times in succession and dominating the game with her eleventh and last ace of the game.
“I have to let go of that expectations. That doesn’t mean I’m lowering my expectations,” Williams said. “It just means I’m having realistic expectations of not winning every point, every game, every shot.
“It sounds crazy, but, you know, that’s me and that’s what makes me me. I’m me. I’m Serena. At some point I’m always going to have some level of perfection, but I just need to have a more reasonable level so I cannot put so much stress on me mentally.”
Williams will play Bulgaria’s US Open quarterfinalist Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round.