(Reuters) – Serena Williams was pleased to get back on court despite losing what was her first match in almost a year, against Jelena Ostapenko, at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
It was Williams’ first outing since winning her 23rd grand slam singles title at the Australian Open in January, while pregnant, before taking time out to have the baby.
But she failed to fully rediscover her rhythm and quickly dropped the first set 6-2 to the Latvian Ostapenko, the French Open champion.
The 36-year-old American roared back to win the second set 6-3 before losing the decisive tiebreak 10-5 in the exhibition match.
Williams admitted her mind wandered to her child, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., during the match.
“Motherhood is phenomenal. I was a little worried out there and I looked at my camp and I was like ‘Is Olympia ok?’. But it’s really good,” she said in her on-court interview.
“I’m excited, it’s good to be back on the court. This was such a good time for me.
“It’s my first time playing in Abu Dhabi so thank you guys for the support. First matches back are always super incredibly hard, especially after having a baby but it was great, I’m glad I could do it here.”
Williams has registered for the Australian Open, which begins on Jan. 15 at Melbourne Park.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Bolton)