In her first match since winning the U.S. Open title in September, Serena Williams defeated Angelique Kerber in two sets 6-4, 6-1 Tuesday at the WTA Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.
Williams appeared to be rusty, serving less than 50 percent during the match and struggled with her rhythm throughout.
“I felt okay,” Williams said. “Just kind of getting in my rhythm a little bit. Obviously trying to do more, but really just feeling my way around.”
In the first set Williams allowed Kerber to tie the game at 4-4 after taking a 3-0 lead. She sent a blazing backhander down the line to go up 5-4 . Williams blew two set points before Kerber put a forehand into the net to win the set.
Williams carried the momentum into the second set taking a 3-1 lead and going up 4-1 after shouting “Come on.”
Even though Williams loss the first three points of the final game, she clinched the match when Kerber blasted a forehand wide.
Some analyst predicted the fast indoor surface at Sinan Erdem Arena would strengthen her big serve, but she only had three aces for the entire match. Despite the court playing slower than last year, Williams managed to finish 17 of the 20 points at the net. She also hit 26 winners compared to 20 unforced errors.
Williams has had an unbelievable year, winning Wimbledon before adding an Olympic gold medal and the U.S. Open title. She has also had injury and sickness issues during the 2012 season and took a month off. Williams withdrew from the French Open with a lower back injury, suffered an ankle injury in the U.S. Open and withdrew from Beijing citing a stomach issue.
“I definitely needed to rest,” she said. “After that it was really, really intense summer for me, and I think my body was really feeling at the Open towards the end of the second week and even before that.”
The month-long break started to make Williams feel anxious to get back to the courts and compete.
“I felt like I was ready to play,”she said. “I felt like I practiced too much, and if I hit another practice ball I’m going to go nuts. So I just really wanted a match. I was glad I played first on the first day. I was like, if I have another practice day, you know, I don’t know if I can handle it.”
Williams showed that her practicing paid dividends by winning the rematch against Kerber, who defeated her 6-4, 6-4 in August.
“I really wanted to win today, obviously,” she said. “When you are playing anyone in the top five, you just are trying to play better. She won the last time we played, so I really just wanted to do well today.”