Serena Williams suffers defeat on comeback

Abu Dhabi: Jelena Ostapenko says she has nothing to lose and everything to gain when she takes on the returning former World No 1 Serena Williams in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

The 36-year-old American, victor of 23 grand slam single titles, was making a comeback after taking almost 11 months off to have her first child.

The 2018 Australian Open kicks off in almost two weeks with Williams expected to participate.

It is a surprise to see the American back in action so quickly, but she definitely has her eyes on a 24th Grand Slam trophy in Melbourne, but chose to compete in Abu Dhabi for her comeback, "I am delighted to be returning to the court in Abu Dhabi for the first time since the birth of my daughter in September".

'It's good to be back on court. first matches back are super, incredibly hard especially after having a baby'.

"I don't know if I am totally ready to come back on the Tour yet".

"Knowing that I have won 23 Grand Slam titles and several other titles, I don't think I have anything more left to prove", she said. "I am definitely looking forward to getting back out there. I am going to assess everything with Patrick [Mouratoglou, her coach] and my team". She gave birth to her first child, a girl named Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., on September 1.

The 20-year-old Latvian was born nearly two years after Williams turned professional in September 1995.

Williams said after the match: "Motherhood is phenomenal".

She nimbly chased down a drop shot that caught the top of the net to level the match but paid for too many errors in the deciding match tie-break.

Both players showed signs of rustiness early in the match, coughing up their serve in each of the opening games.

The contest, admittedly with only exhibition status at the Mubadala World Tennis event in Abu Dhabi, suggests that defending her Australian title is within reach of 36 year-old Williams. By this time she was moving better and she started hitting more winners.

"She was actually my idol when I was growing up, and I saw her matches and I really liked the style she was playing. I knew I was not going to fall over and break", said Williams. "I have had a tough few months and I am just excited to be able to play again".

  • Steve Townsend