Serena Williams has won her first singles match on the WTA tour in 430 days, beating Nuria Parrizas Diazn 6-3 6-4 at the Canadian Open.
Playing in just her second singles match since returning to action after a year-long absence from competition, Williams was forced to dig deep on Monday during a nearly two-hour match played in hot and humid conditions.
One of 14 major winners in the main draw of the hard-court event that serves as a tune-up for the US Open, Williams clinched the opening set on her fourth attempt with a vintage smash that Parrizas Diaz had no chance of returning.
The second set was a much tighter affair and Williams did well to hold serve in a physically demanding 18-minute game during which she used her power to fight off four break points to level at 4-4.
The 23-time grand slam champion broke her opponent after Parrizas Diaz sent a backhand wide and went on to serve out the match for her first singles victory since the 2021 French Open - a stretch of 430 days.
The 40-year-old sent the tennis world into a frenzy when she won an epic rally in the second set with a brutal cross-court forehand winner.
Williams only returned to singles action at Wimbledon last month, losing to Harmony Tan in the opening round.
She missed an entire year while recovering from a hamstring injury she sustained at Wimbledon in 2021.
Monday's victory gave her the most wins among female players at the Canadian Open in the Open era (35), taking her past Chris Evert's previous record of 34.
THAT POINT FROM SERENA!! My god 🤯
— TennisFan (@TennisTea1) August 8, 2022
OH MY GOD SERENA THAT WAS INCREDIBLE????
— claire 🎾 • 💙💛 (@ventaniix) August 8, 2022
That IS the #serena of old! We need her back for at least a couple of more years.
— Xerkun (@Xerkun) August 8, 2022
Magnificent rally from both players. 👏👏👏
— Danny R (@currentdanny) August 8, 2022
Welcome back the legend serenawilliams
— Simo (@Ismael3303) August 8, 2022
Welcome back ❤️
— Fabio (@fabiotemi) August 8, 2022
Simona Halep and Elena Rybakina advance
Romanian 15th seed Simona Halep, who retired from her second-round match last week in Washington due to illness, needed just 61 minutes to secure a 6-0 6-2 win over Croatia's Donna Vekic.
Halep breezed through the first set in 21 minutes and never looked back as Vekic grew more frustrated as the match wore on.
"It's not about the result it's more about how I played," Halep, who did not face a break point, said during her on-court interview.
"I've been very aggressive and I played fast so that's my goal and I am trying to do that every day."
Halep, who won her two Canadian titles when the event was held in Montreal in 2016 and 2018, awaits either China's Zhang Shuai or Spanish qualifier Cristina Busca in round two.
Elena Rybakina, who followed her Wimbledon triumph with a first-round exit at San Jose last week, beat Czech Marie Bouzkova 7-5 6-7 (3-7) 6-1 to secure her first win as a grand slam champion.
Next up for the Kazakh will be a clash with either American 10th seed Coco Gauff or Madison Brengle while 2017 French Open winner, and 16th seed, Jelena Ostapenko will take on either Petra Kvitova or Alison Riske-Amritraj in the round of 32 after the Latvian recorded a 6-4 6-2 victory over Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina.
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