Serena Williams triumphantly returned to the Australian Open for the first time since winning the title in 2017 while pregnant, easily defeating Germany’s Tatjana Maria in a first-round match on Tuesday.
“Yeah, I think the last time I was here, I was pregnant and playing at the same time, which is insane,” Williams told the Associated Press following her 6-0, 6-2 victory. “It’s kind of weird walking back on, by myself this time.”
Williams was in the early stages of her pregnancy when she won the Australian championship ― her 23rd Grand Slam title ― in late January of 2017. Her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., was born on Sept. 1, 2017.
Tuesday’s match in Melbourne was the first official one for Williams since her controversial loss in U.S Open final round last September.
Williams acknowledged her return to the Australian Open with an Instagram post that made a wry reference to the circumstances of her last appearance there. “Playing solo this time,” she wrote.
Williams, 37, will play in the second round against Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard later this week. Bouchard expressed her excitement to play against Williams.
“I think she’s the greatest ever,” she said, according to Reuters. “So it’s just so cool that I’ll be able to share the court with her and an opportunity to see how I compare to one of the best players.”