Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Serena has high expectations heading into Indian Wells

Serena has high expectations heading into Indian Wells

Serena Williams returns a shot to Shuai Zhang during the Tie Break Tens tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York on Monday. AFP
Serena Williams returns a shot to Shuai Zhang during the Tie Break Tens tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York on Monday. AFP

Serena has high expectations heading into Indian Wells

Serena Williams said on Monday that she “can’t wait for the future” as she warmed up for her return to the WTA Tour at the Tie Break Tens exhibition at Madison Square Garden.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion is competing at the elite Indian Wells hardcourt tournament this week, her first tour action since her 2017 Australian Open triumph.

Williams was pregnant when she lifted the trophy in Melbourne last year, and missed the rest of 2017 awaiting the birth of her daughter in September.

Monday’s event, which featured eight players facing off in 10-point “super tie-breaks” as they vied for a $250,000 winner’s prize, was a chance to sharpen her skills.

Williams bowed out in the second round, gaining a 9-7 lead over China’s Zhang Shuai but eventually falling 13-11.

“It was good,” she said of the experience. “I wish I would have made a few more shots.”

Williams opened the laid-back event with a 10-5 victory over Marion Bartoli, the 2013 Wimbledon champion who announced in December she was planning to return to the court more than four years after retiring in the wake of her only Grand Slam triumph.

After correcting the protocol for the “rock-paper-scissors” game used to determine who served first, Williams fell behind 4-2, but a double-fault from Bartoli followed by two aces from Serena saw the American great ahead 5-4.

A couple of forehand winners and a service winner saw Williams take an 8-4 lead, and she finally finished it off with another winning serve.

“It feels different, it feels good,” said Williams, who returned to competition with a Fed Cup doubles loss alongside her sister Venus last month.

The birth of Williams’s daughter, Alexis Olympia, was followed by complications that scuppered the player’s plans to defend her title in Melbourne.

But Williams says she’s aiming to be back at her best – apparently more than comfortable with coach Patrick Mouratoglou’s comments to wtatennis.com that her goal for this season “will be to win Grand Slams.”

“I think everyone should have high expectations,” said Williams, who will be unseeded at Indian Wells and open her campaign against 53rd-ranked Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan. “That’s the message that I’m sending.”

Bartoli, who was forced to pull out of an exhibition event at Wimbledon last year because of a mystery virus and dramatic weight loss, has said she was targeting a return to the WTA Tour at the Miami Open later this month.

However, the 33-year-old said her timetable would depend on how her body holds up to training.

“I do not know if my shoulder and my knees are going to hold, there are so many question marks,” she said.

“What is certain is that I will not return to the court until I consider myself 100 percent. I stopped the competition for five years – and I’ll be back when I’m 100 percent.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Malaysia MP accused of ‘influencing law’

    Malaysian Member of Parliament (MP) Larry Sng arrived in Siem Reap early on Wednesday, in what was slammed by one NGO as efforts by Kuala Lumpur to “influence Cambodian law”. The Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh requested on January 30 “cooperation from the Ministry of Foreign

  • Ministries begin measures to offset EU’s EBA decision

    In the wake of the EU’s controversial announcement this week that it has begun the withdrawal process for Cambodia’s Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential agreement, government ministries and political analysts continued to share their reactions and economic mitigation plans in preparation for the

  • Emirates launches route connecting Phnom Penh, Bangkok

    Emirates will launch a daily service on June 1 linking Phnom Penh (PNH) and Bangkok (BKK). The service from Phnom Penh to Dubai, via Bangkok, will provide more flight options to passengers travelling between the capitals of Cambodia and Thailand. Travellers from the Southeast Asian nations

  • US Embassy urged to stop ‘disrespecting sovereignty’

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called on the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Saturday to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations after it called former opposition leader Kem Sokha “an innocent man” – a move deemed to be “disrespecting Cambodia’s