World no. 11 and four-time Rome champion Serena Williams had decided to come back to the Italian capital and compete there for the first time in three years when she won the title. Entering only the fourth tournament this season and the 11th after she returned from pregnancy, Serena grabbed the first win on clay outside Roland Garros since that Rome 2016, beating Rebecca Peterson 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and 15 minutes on Tuesday.
Rain washed the action on Wednesday but Serena wasn't ready for the first clash with sister Venus in Rome since 1998, being forced to withdraw due to an ongoing left knee injury and staying on just nine matches in 2019, not being able to finish the encounter at the last three tournaments!
The 37-year-old kicked off the season with the quarter-final defeat at the Australian Open to Karolina Pliskova after wasting five match points, staying away from the court until Indian Wells where she retired against Garbine Muguruza.
Also, Williams had to withdraw before the third round match with Qiang Wang in Miami, struggling to find the form outside the Majors ever since she hit back the court in March 2018. After the latest setback, Serena is doubtful for the upcoming second Grand Slam of the season at Roland Garros although she is ready to give it a try, working at Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in Biot until the final decision about traveling to Paris or not.
Making a debut at Roland Garros 21 years ago, Serena has won 63 matches at clay Grand Slam so far, winning the first title in 2002 and waiting for 11 years to grab the next one, defeating Maria Sharapova in the title match.
Serena was the player to beat in Paris is 2015 as well, losing in the final to Muguruza a year later and withdrawing before the clash with Maria Sharapova last spring.