Serena Williams Loses First Match After Maternity Leave

New mum, Serena Williams on Saturday suffered defeat on her comeback from a maternity break as French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko powered to victory in the “first to ten points” final set at the Mubadala World Championship in Abu Dhabi.

The championship is an exhibition tournament.

The slow moving 36-year-old Williams looked static and far from full fitness just four months after the birth of her first child and Ostapenko, a 20-year-old Latvian, won 6-2, 3-6, 10/5.

“The first match is always really hard after a break,” Williams said.

The 36-year-old American, winner of 23 grand slam single titles, was making a comeback after taking nearly 11 months off to have her first child.

Her last match was the Australian Open final, which she won despite being two-month pregnant.

“It was good to be back out there. I missed playing, I missed competition, I missed the crowd, the atmosphere so much. It was really nice to be back,” said Williams after the match.

“I don’t know if I am totally ready to come back on the Tour yet. I know that when I come back I definitely want to be competing for championships,” she said, refusing to commit yet to the Australian Open, which starts in a little over two weeks.

“I don’t know, but I am definitely looking forward to getting back out there.

“I am taking it one day at a time. I am going to assess everything with Patrick (Mouratoglou, her coach) and my team,” she said.

It was the first time Ostapenko had played against Williams, whom she described as her “childhood idol”.

The 20-year-old Latvian was born almost two years after Williams turned professional in September 1995.

Williams was clearly having problems with her serve and was broken five times in the 17 games.

She also stuck mostly to the baseline and only twice charged the net.

She started well, breaking Ostapenko’s serve in the first game of the match. But Williams’ inability to get her first serve going, along with several unforced errors early in the match, allowed the Latvian to break twice and build a 4-1 lead before wrapping up the set 6-2.

Williams’ problems with her serve continued, but she unleashed a few of her trademark double-handed shots on both sides to break Ostapenko twice at the start of the second set to go 3-0 up. By this time she was moving better and she started hitting more winners.

“That’s the really good thing. In the beginning, it felt a little tough. But as the match moved on, I was less afraid,” explained Williams.

“I knew I was not going to fall over and break. The more I played, the more confident I felt that I would be able to go for shots that I was afraid to go for in the first set.

“It was a wonderful opportunity for me to kind of test where I am at. Not just physically, but also mentally.”

The super tie-break was mostly a one-sided affair as Williams made unforced errors trying to be aggressive.

She was down 2-8 at one stage and won the next three points, but Ostapenko held her serve twice to close the match.

The former world No.1 who gave birth to a daughter in September is hoping to defend her Australian Open title when the tournament gets underway January 15.

Soon To Be Aunt Preparing For Serena’s Baby And US Open

Wimbledon and Australian Open runner-up Venus Williams is preparing this week for the US Open and to become a new aunt with sister Serena giving birth to a baby soon.

Ninth-ranked Venus advanced Tuesday to the second round of the WTA Cincinnati Open by eliminating US compatriot Alison Riske 6-2, 6-0 in 66 minutes.

But off the court, she’s doing some online shopping for Serena’s baby, and getting some valuable advice from her mother, Oracene Price, who has raised five daughters.

“I have a lot of things in my cart that I’m about to order,” Venus Williams said. “I talked to my mom yesterday. I’m like, ‘Mom, what do you really, really need?’ So she really gave me the low-down.

“So I’m going to get this stuff and as things progress I’ll see what I need after.”

Serena and her fiancee, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, have said they plan to keep the sex of the baby a surprise until birth.

Serena, 35, was pregnant when she beat Venus, 37, in an Australian Open final that was more all-Williams than either knew, winning a 23rd career Grand Slam singles crown, one shy of Margaret Court’s all-time record.

In April, Serena revealed on social media that she was pregnant. She is expected to give birth in about another month.

With Serena sidelined, seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus has picked up the family mantle and turned back the clock, making a run to the Wimbledon final last month, losing to Spain’s Garbine Muguruza in a bid for her first Slam crown since 2008.

Venus, who won five Wimbledon and two US Open titles, has been an aunt before, but not when she was old enough to do some serious spoiling and spending on the new arrival.

“This is the first time I’ve been an aunt as an adult,” she said. “So it’s a completely different experience than before when I was a child.”

After a third-round exit in Toronto last week, Williams hopes to put the final fine tuning on her game this week ahead of the year’s final Grand Slam that begins August 28 in New York.

“I just want to play free and feel confident. That’s important,” Williams said. “I need to play my best at all the big events.

“Today was about being measured and being patient and trying to just capitalize on the match.”

Williams, who won her 49th career WTA singles crown last year at Kaohsiung, said she doesn’t feel pressure to win the title this week.

“Not really, but I want to (feel that pressure),” she said. “I want to win every match. The aim is to get out there and be better every single time.”

Serena Williams Speaks About Feminism In her Eight Month Of Pregnancy, And Her Fear For Motherhood

American professional tennis player, Serena Jameka Williams, has appeared on the new cover of an Australia-based Stellar magazine, in which she expresses her fears about starting a family, and what she thinks about feminism.

She recently held a 1950’s themed baby shower.

Serena, who made Forbes’ list of the 100 highest paid athletes, told Stellar her thoughts on feminism, her fears and starting a family.

The 35-year-old is expecting her first child with fiancé Alexis Ohanian and recently held the 1950s themed baby shower, which was well attended by her celebrity friends.

The eight-month pregnant mother shared the pictures of her baby shower on Instagram, with the caption, “When you and your crew go so far back to the 50’s. Even then, they had your back.”

Williams holds the most Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles combined, among active players.