Published: Wed, May 30, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Serena Williams 'feels like a warrior' after triumphant return


Barty's reward is a centre-court crack at the most celebrated player in women's tennis after Williams marked her much-hyped grand-slam comeback with a lung-busting 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 win over risky Czech left-hander Kristyna Pliskova.

- Despite enormity of occasion, the 36-year-old, with her hair scraped back into severe-looking bob, the stadium is barely half-full as fans take a breather following Rafael Nadal's opening win.

"A lot of people have really reached out, because they have so many similar stories, too, " she said.

"I call it like my Wakanda-inspired catsuit. It's really fun", she said in reference to the fictional African nation which features in the Marvel comics and was the centrepiece of the Black Panther movie blockbuster.

Few people can upstage Serena but even the 23-time Grand Slam champion knows one should never steal the show at a friend's wedding, not least a royal wedding.

"I'm always living in a fantasy world".

"I want to get home and see Olympia, because I have been here all day", Williams said. "She's my priority, and I work everything around her".

To do so, Williams suited up - quite literally. "It definitely has little functionality to it. I have been wearing trousers in general a lot when I play so I can keep, you know, the blood circulation going". "It's a fun suit, but it's also functional", she said.


Williams, unseeded in the draw, takes on No. 17-seeded Ashleigh Barty in the second round.

Williams admitted her eye-catching, figure-hugging black catsuit was inspired by the smash hit Black Panther movie but was also meant to help women with post-natal complications.

'It was comfortable. I tried it on a couple of times before.

Pliskova admitted she had nerves at the start of the match, which zigzagged along without any particular rhythm initially, with short points and a fair sprinkling of aces.

The very first game featured an ace at 181 kph and when it ended with Pliskova netting a backhand, the chair umpire intoned, "Jeu, Madame Williams", - French for "Game, Mrs Williams", a change from the "Mademoiselle" officials use for unmarried female players.

Serena Williams has caused a stir with her attire at the French Open. It just kind of expands that, and I really, really embrace it'.

She will struggle to win the French Open on this evidence, but the medium term goal will be to mount a serious challenge at Wimbledon, and that may well be within range.

"I battled the rain, my opponent, the nerves, so it's pretty nice to get through". "So I would like to just, for the record, say that please give us time and we will, as a woman association, make sure that we have the best for woman players and for our sport there are a couple aspects to the seeding".

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