In 2017, Serena Williams' first Auckland appearance had an unknown element to it, one even she did not know about. Three years later, the 38-year-old's life has undergone a full 360 – with her becoming a mother and returning to the Tour post-pregnancy.
Her 2020 appearance in the event is, therefore, special. On Tuesday, when the top-seeded Williams played her first-round match against Camila Giorgi of Italy, she made sure she would be around for longer to savour this specialness.
The American defeated Giorgi 6-3, 6-2 in 68 minutes to also begin her 2020 season with a bang. This was Williams' first match since her 2019 US Open final defeat to Bianca Andreescu after which she wrapped up her season.
In the next round, Williams will play fellow American Christina McHale. McHale defeated American qualifier Ann Li in their round-of-32 match on Tuesday, 7-5, 6-2. Williams' close friend – and doubles partner in Auckland – Caroline Wozniacki also had a winning start in the event.
The fiftth-seeded Dane needed just 53 minutes to complete a 6-0, 6-1 win against New Zealand's wildcard recipient Paige Mary Hourigan. Much like Williams, this year's event has extra significance for Wozniacki, for whom this is the penultimate event before her retirement after the Australian Open.
The 2018 Australian Open champion awaits the winner of ther American derby between Varvara Lepchenko and Lauren Davis in the next round. Third seed Amanda Anisimova of the US was also off to a sprightly start against Ukraine's Kateryna Kozlova.
Anisimova won 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 18 minutes. Anismova will play Russian Daria Kasatkina in the second round. Kasatkina had earlier defeated Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro in the opening round. German Laura Siegemund defeated American lucky loser Cathy McNally on Tuesday.
Siegemund won 6-2, 6-2 in an hour and 26 minutes. She will play McNally's doubles partner, Coco Gauff in the round-of-16. At the bottom of the draw, second seed from Croatia, Petra Martic set a second-round meeting against France's Alize Cornet.
Martic defeated the USA's lucky loser Usue Maitane Arconada 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. Cornet also defeated a lucky loser in Belgium's Ysaline Bonaventure 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.