Serena Williams earns first win of season in Toronto

Aug 8, 2022, 12:56 AM | Updated: 8:58 pm
Sloane Stephens, left, of the United States, returns a ball to Sofia Kenin, also of the United Stat...

Sloane Stephens, left, of the United States, returns a ball to Sofia Kenin, also of the United States, during women's match action at the National Bank Open tennis tournament in Toronto, Monday, Aug. 8, 2022. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press via AP)

(Cole Burston/The Canadian Press via AP)

TORONTO (AP) — Serena Williams hadn’t won in so long, she said she couldn’t even remember the feeling.

She picked up her first victory since the 2021 French Open on Monday, beating Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 6-3, 6-4 at the women’s National Bank Open.

“I’m just happy to get a win. It’s been a very long time, I forgot what that felt like,” Williams said.

It’s just the second tournament of the season for the 40-year-old Williams, who returned to competition at Wimbledon just over a month ago. The 23-time Grand Slam champion fell in the first round to Harmony Tan in three sets at the All England Club.

Before then, she last competed at the 2021 Wimbledon tournament, where she retired in the middle of her first match due to a torn hamstring suffered after slipping on the grass surface.

Williams, who will turn 41 at the end of September, will next face either 12th-ranked Belinda Bencic or Tereza Martincova.

Williams has won this tournament three times and reached the final in her last appearance at the hardcourt event in 2019, losing to Bianca Andreescu when she was forced to stop because of injury.

But Williams has played little since and knows she needs time on the court.

“I feel good, I felt like I competed well today. I think that’s what I needed to do, is just compete,” she said. “Mentally, I’m getting there. I’m not where I normally am (or) where I want to be. Any match I play, whether I win or lose, helps me.

“I haven’t played a lot in the last year, (even) two years. I think that helps me physically. I feel much better in practice, it’s just getting that to the court. Literally, I’m the kind of person (where) it takes one or two things and then it clicks.”

Williams started out strong, taking the first two games with relative ease.

Parrizas-Diaz tied it 2-2, but despite Williams’ struggles at certain points, the 31-year-old Spaniard couldn’t find enough of a consistent flow to get ahead. Williams found her rhythm, mixing solid touch with her signature power and putting shot after shot out of Parrizas-Diaz’s reach.

Williams’ effort had the fans on their feet roaring and some even bowing.

Williams won the final three games to take the first set, then surged ahead in the second after the 57th-ranked Parrizas-Diaz took a 4-3 lead. She endured a nine-deuce game to hold serve and even the set, then broke in the next game before serving out the victory.

While Williams says the end of her remarkable career is in sight, she’s enjoying her time and staying in the moment.

“I’m getting closer to the light. Lately, that’s been it, I can’t wait to get to that light,” she said, adding the light represents “freedom.”

“I love playing though, it’s amazing,” she added. “I can’t do this forever, so sometimes you just want to try your best to enjoy the moments and do the best that you can.”

In other opening-round action, Canada’s Leylah Fernandez made her return to the court with a 6-4, 6-7 (2), 6-3 win over Australian Storm Sanders.

Fernandez was back in action for the first time since suffering a stress fracture in her foot during a quarterfinal loss to Martina Trevisan on May 31. The 13th-ranked Fernandez will next play Brazil’s Beatriz Maia on Wednesday.

Also, Sloane Stephens defeated Sofia Kenan in three sets, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5, in a three-hour match that was interrupted twice by rain.

___

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Memphis Grizzlies' Kennedy Chandler shoots between Milwaukee Bucks' Grayson Allen snd Sandro Mamuke...
Associated Press

Rookies, late rally lead Grizzlies over Bucks 107-102

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Rookie David Roddy scored 18 points, two-way signee Kenny Lofton Jr. added 17 and the Memphis Grizzlies used a late run to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 107-102 on Saturday night in the opening preseason game for both teams. Many of the star players for both teams didn’t play. Milwaukee All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo, […]
21 hours ago
LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels (5) breaks away from Auburn safety Donovan Kaufman (1) in the first ...
Associated Press

LSU rallies for 4th straight win, 21-17 over Auburn

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — John Emery Jr. rushed for a tackle-breaking, 20-yard touchdown and Greg Brooks Jr. had a late interception to help LSU complete a 21-17, come-from-behind win over Auburn on Saturday night. LSU (4-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) fell behind 17-0 before Jayden Daniels brought the visiting Tigers back with help from Auburn blunders. […]
21 hours ago
Soccer fans enter the pitch during a clash between supporters at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, East...
Associated Press

A look at some of the world’s major crowd disasters

MALANG, Indonesia (AP) — Police fired tear gas after several fights broke out at an Indonesian soccer match in East Java province when Persebaya Surabaya beat Arema Malang 3-2. Panic and a rush for the exit left over 100 people dead, mostly trampled to death, police said Sunday. Here’s a look at some of the […]
21 hours ago
Associated Press

Doege, Billingsley lift Troy past Western Kentucky 34-27

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — Jarret Doege threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, DK Billingsley ran for 122 yards with a touchdown and Troy defeated Western Kentucky 34-27 on Saturday night. Doege came in for injured starter Gunnar Watson late in the third quarter when the game was tied at 20. He finished […]
21 hours ago
Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Jose Suarez throws to a Texas Rangers batter during the first i...
Associated Press

Angels’ José Suarez has perfect game through 6 vs Rangers

ANAHEIM Calif. (AP) — José Suarez of the Los Angeles Angels has a perfect game through six innings Saturday night against the Texas Rangers. The Venezuelan left-hander has thrown 77 pitches and struck out five. The Angels lead 1-0 on an RBI bloop single by Kurt Suzuki. It is the first time Suarez has had […]
21 hours ago
Associated Press

Howell’s TD lifts Alabama State past Texas Southern 16-13

HOUSTON (AP) — Santo Dunn rushed for 101 yards, Ja’Won Howell scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, and Alabama State rallied past Texas Southern, defeating the Tigers 16-13 on Saturday night. After Brandon Gaddy forced a fumble that was recovered by Demaruez Bellamy, the Hornets took possession at the Texas Southern 39-yard line […]
21 hours ago
Serena Williams earns first win of season in Toronto