The 23-time Major champion Serena Williams is through to the second round at Roland Garros, beating the fellow American Kristie Ahn 7-6, 6-0 in an hour and 41 minutes. Turning 39 a couple of days ago, Serena is eager to conquer that elusive 24th Major title, winning the previous one at the Australian Open 2017 and suffering four defeats in the finals at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2018 and 2019.
Following the semi-final US Open loss to Victoria Azarenka, Serena is back at winning way, producing the 66th victory in Paris and the 357th at Majors. In New York, Williams toppled Ahn in straight sets in the opener, repeating that in Paris on Monday after a challenging opening set that lasted for 72 minutes.
As it turned out, Ahn had nothing left in the tank in set number two, allowing Serena to produce a bagel and kick off the title chase. Williams suffered two breaks and earned five, keeping the points on her racquet with 26 winners and 36 unforced errors, spraying most of those mistakes in the opener.
They stayed neck and neck in the mid-range and more extended exchanges, with Serena earning the victory in the shortest range thanks to her booming serve and the first groundstroke. Speaking after the match, Williams said confidence is the key for a good result, also mentioning her expectations that can't be on the highest level all the time.
Still seeking perfection, Serena is not thinking about winning every point, taking the mental stress away from her and focusing on the long-term goals.
Serena Williams is through to the second round at Roland Garros.
"The most significant difference was confidence.
I need to play with more of it, like I'm Serena, and that's what I did. I love the clay, and I started playing like it, opening the court and moving and sliding. I think Kristie's level dropped slightly at the beginning of the second set, and I took advantage of that.
I'm doing so much for the body, as I did at Patrick's academy. One of the reasons I came into press a bit earlier than normal is that I need to get back and start the protocol again. I have a rehab, laser, ice, just a lot of stuff.
I have put so much perfectionism into my habits that if it's not perfect, then it's not enough for me. That is something I have been working on. I was able to get over that in the recent past couple of months, just since the restart from COVID.
I feel like that has been what I needed to deal with, understand that my level of greatness is sometimes crazy high, and a win is a win. I have to let go of those expectations. That doesn't mean I'm lowering my expectations.
It just means I'm having realistic expectations of not winning every point, every game, every shot. It sounds crazy, but, you know, that's me, and that's what makes me me. At some point, I'm always going to have some level of perfection, but I need to have a more reasonable level so I cannot put so much stress on me mentally," Serena Williams said.