In her first official tour match since winning the Australian Open in 2017, Serena survived a good effort from Zarina Diyas to advance 7-5, 6-3.
BC-TEN-Indian Wells, 4th Ld-Writethru, 171 Serena Williams wins 1st match in comeback at Indian WellsAP Photo CACC403, CACC405, CACC404, CACC402Eds: APNewsNow.
After informing reporters that she had never tested positive, Williams explained that "I wasn't going to play it [the French Open] unless I had a TUE because if you remember that year I was incredibly sick ..."
Serena Williams has won her first match in her comeback at the BNP Paribas Open after a 14-month layoff for the birth of her first child.
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Azarenka was playing her first match since Wimbledon last June, and is contesting just her third tournament since giving birth to her son Leo in December 2016. I get to go home to her now and I'm excited about that. I played with the Sarin. I have always been that kind of player that, if you are going to beat me, you are going to beat me and I'm going to congratulate you.
While Williams used her serve to stay out of trouble, Diyas displayed a solid forehand, saving four break points to hold the lead at 3-2 in the first set and even receiving applause from Williams for a attractive forehand on the run at 0-40.
The first serve continued to be Williams' weapon, throwing her opponent off with a 100mph ace to go 40-0 in the second game.
"I have long-term goals obviously, but right now my main goal is just to stay in the moment", Williams said.
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"I would never be able to look my kid in the eye and say "Mom cheated" or Mom did something like that. I just want to do the best that I can".
"She's been really supportive throughout this whole situation, sending really nice and encouraging messages for sure", said Azarenka of Williams. It was definitely not easy.
In contrast to sister Venus, who was also a victim of the Fancy Bears hack and chose to release a statement defending her integrity at the time, Serena decided not address the release of her medical records.
"She might go out a little less", Venus said before breaking into a grin.
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And while Azarenka announced after the win that she was planning on playing in Miami later this month, her long-term future on the tour is still in doubt. "But she's definitely remained just very youthful and childlike at heart".