Rusty Serena Williams wins first match after yearlong absence

Chris Chase
Busted Racquet

Tweets from the first set of Serena Williams' comeback match:

• Serena is struggling out there - with her breathing, innumerable ball bounces before serves, toss, nerves.

• Serena loses first 5 games, playing horribly. Serena's backhand woeful.

• Serena's huffing and puffing.

• Rusty? Doesn't quite describe Serena's first set 6-1 loss to Pironkova. 3 double faults; missed smash, groundies netted. Must get better.

Williams hadn't played since last year's Wimbledon final, a stretch of 346 days, and it showed in the first set against Tsvetana Pironkova. Serena dropped the opener 6-1 and looked every bit like a player trying to get back in the groove after a yearlong absence.

It didn't take long. Serena rattled off three straight games to open the next set and held on to win the match 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 against the 34th-ranked Bulgarian. Pironkova is no slouch on grass either; she defeated Venus Williams at last year's Wimbledon.

After the match, Serena told the on-court interviewer what everyone in the stadium already knew. "I'm a little rusty," she said, "but I enjoy being back on the grass."

The win moves the Williams sisters to 2-0 in Eastbourne, the first regular event either Venus or Serena has played since last May.