Serena Williams looks strong in return to U.S. Open almost one year after giving birth to daughter

Yahoo Sports
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/olympics/rio-2016/a/1132744/" data-ylk="slk:Serena Williams">Serena Williams</a> looked dominant Monday in her first U.S. Open match since giving birth to her daughter last September. (AP)
Serena Williams looked dominant Monday in her first U.S. Open match since giving birth to her daughter last September. (AP)

This time last year, Serena Williams was very pregnant.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion was five days away from giving birth to her daughter Alexis, who was born on Sept. 1.

Serena Williams cruises in return to U.S. Open

On Monday, a muggy 85-degree night in New York, Williams made her return to the U.S. Open. She looked very much at home at the tournament she has won six times in a 6-4, 6-0 win over Poland’s Magda Linette.

The heat and humidity had fans in the stands sweating and left both players drenched under the bright lights of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, prompting Williams to ask for new wristbands three games into the match.

Magda Linette battled early

Williams got a battle early from Linette, who matched her game for game in route to a 3-3 start in the opening set. She also came prepared with notes to take on the game’s most dominant player for the first time.

It was the seventh game where Williams won her first service break to take a 4-3 lead in the first set.

Linette fought to deuce on Serena’s next serve. But Williams held on to take a 5-3 lead, showing emotion for the first time in the match, screaming “come on” when she took the advantage on a missed backhand from Linette.

From that point, Linette won just one more game.

Williams broke Linette’s serve to win the opening game of the second set, where she cruised past the 26-year-old who found herself worn down and outmatched the rest of the way.

Serena: ‘It’s never easy’

“It’s never easy,” Williams told ESPN of the tough start to the match. “When I first got out there, I think I was a little — not tight, but anxious. I was really anxious. I started to calm down and I was relaxed, and I knew it would come sooner.”

The win leaves Williams and her sister Venus Williams, who beat Svetlana Kuznetsova earlier in the day, each one win away from playing each other.

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