French Open: Serena Williams roars back to beat Ashleigh Barty after dropping first set

Serena Williams was elated when she won her round two match against Ashleigh Barty at the French Open. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Serena Williams was elated when she won her round two match against Ashleigh Barty at the French Open. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

In just her second majors match since the birth of her daughter, Serena Williams donned her catsuit again, roared on the court, and showed everyone that her first win at Roland-Garros wasn’t a fluke. She’s officially back.

On Thursday, Williams beat Australia’s Ashleigh Barty in round two at the French Open. It took her three sets, but she emerged with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory. Things looked a little dicey in the first set, with Williams struggling to return simple shots and looking generally tentative. But she found her feet in the second set, and by the end she looked like the powerful, dominating athlete she is.

Barty is ranked No. 17 in the world, and Kristyna Pliskova, who she faced Tuesday, is ranked. No. 70. Williams came into the tournament unseeded and beat them both. The French Open is to blame for that — they declined to seed her at all, citing her yearlong absence from tennis as the reason. Of course, Williams was gone from the game that long because she was pregnant with her daughter, Alexis Olympia, who was born just nine months ago.

But it almost feels right for Williams to be given such a challenge in her first post-motherhood major. Since the birth of her daughter, she’s been open about the challenges she’s faced in her off-the-court life. Her daughter was delivered via emergency C-section due to fetal distress, and the surgery gave Williams complications that were so severe she almost died.

But physical complications (which required a number of surgeries and weeks of bed rest) weren’t her only postpartum issues. Williams recently spoke to Harper’s Bazaar UK about suffering from postpartum depression, which she is still dealing with.

“I think people need to talk about it more because it’s almost like the fourth trimester, it’s part of the pregnancy. I remember one day, I couldn’t find Olympia’s bottle and I got so upset I started crying… because I wanted to be perfect for her.”

In her post-match interview, Williams told the Tennis Channel that she’s “not there yet” as far as her form on the court, and she sees many areas for improvement. But she was elated to nail down her second win, especially after looking so tentative on the court in the early going.

“I lost the first set and just thought ‘you know what? I’ve got try harder’. And Serena came out.”

While she would usually have a day off on Friday, Williams will instead compete in the doubles competition with her sister, Venus. She told the Tennis Channel that playing doubles with Venus is a lot more fun an energizing than a few hours of practice.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter! Follow @lizroscher

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