Ser­ena bounces back, but...

The Manica Post - - Sport/World News -

IT WAS a lit­tle nerve-rack­ing for Ser­ena Wil­liams a multi-Grand Slam win­ner and ti­tle holder to come back from al­most a year of ma­ter­nity leave off the court, to en­ter the Mubadala World Ten­nis Championships, an ex­hi­bi­tion event in Abu Dhabi on De­cem­ber 30th.

The last time Wil­liams was on the court in a com­pet­i­tive man­ner was last year with the Aus­tralian Open and she was three months preg­nant then. “I missed the crowd and the at­mos­phere . . .” she ad­mit­ted to the on-court re­porter af­ter her match.

She had much of the pres­sure on her to per­form well, with pos­si­bly win­ning and was mak­ing her come­back with an op­po­nent, the 2017 French Open Cham­pion Je­lena Ostapenko who is 17 years younger than her­self. It was ex­cite­ment all around be­cause it was their maiden time play­ing one an­other and Ostapenko said: “I am a lit­tle ex­cited be­cause I have never played her”.

But it was Wil­liams’ thought of go­ing back on court say­ing: “I’m ex­cited, it’s good to be back on the court. This was such a good time for me”. The iconic Wil­liams came up a bit short though in the pac­ing depart­ment and of­ten was caught ei­ther on the wrong foot­ing or off bal­anced with the fore­hand and back­hand strokes at times prov­ing ef­fec­tive and of­ten times not caus­ing and hard­ship on Ostapenko to re­turn and put away.

The first set for Ser­ena, nat­u­rally proved a bit dodgy as she was deal­ing with many is­sues come­back play­ers re­turn and have. If it’s not ner­vous­ness for be­ing on the court again among a packed house, she wanted to ex­e­cute shots that were win­ners against an op­po­nent who played nearly stress-free.

She had said about first com­ing on court that “In the be­gin­ning, it felt a lit­tle tough. But as the match moved on, I was less afraid. I knew I was not go­ing to fall over and break. The more I played, the more con­fi­dent I felt . . .” But de­spite it all, Ostapenko dic­tated the open­ing set win­ning 6-2, as Wil­liams had is­sues with con­trol­ling her shots and cre­at­ing many un­forced er­rors.

The sec­ond set had the iconic player shak­ing off much of the but­ter­flies of ner­vous­ness and started play­ing well enough to dic­tate over the French Open champ find­ing the open court, putting away shots, do­ing over­head smashes and also hav­ing a much sharper strat­egy to win 6-3.

But the third and de­cid­ing set went into a tiebreaker where Wil­liams was play­ing looser but grow­ing tired and Ostapenko knew that she’d have to take ad­van­tage of op­po­nent’s fa­tigue, which she did to win the set and the match 6-2, 3-6, 10-5.

But the young French Open cham­pion, has great ad­mi­ra­tion for Wil­liams and says that “I am re­ally hon­oured to play Ser­ena in her first match af­ter com­ing back and I think it is such a great op­por­tu­nity. She was ac­tu­ally my idol when I was grow­ing up and I saw her matches and I re­ally liked the style she is play­ing . . .” Ev­ery­one had pre­con­ceived no­tions of what to ex­pect from Ser­ena Wil­liams not to­tally giv­ing the fact that she’s had a baby a few months ago and will not be the same player that left the court over a year now.

Ser­ena Wil­liams

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.